Lent is the time to sweep away fear
by Connie Faber
I am currently hunting through our house, searching through closets, drawers, cupboards and storage areas for things that we don’t need or use. A conveniently located spare bedroom has become the staging ground for a growing pile of stuff that will eventually be delivered to our local Et Cetera Shop, a community thrift store that benefits Mennonite Central Committee.
The process of cleaning and organizing brings me joy, which is likely why I resonated with a recent suggestion that Lent is a spiritual spring cleaning: a time for taking a spiritual inventory and then cleaning out those things that hinder our relationship with Jesus and our lives as his disciples.
Lent can seem so “heavy,” especially when you compare it to the anticipation and excitement of preparing for Christmas. Lent is typically a season of repentance, fasting, prayer and good deeds, and we focus on these things in preparation for the most important day of the entire year. In his article, “Of first importance,” Jim Holm reminds us that Easter is more essential than even Christmas (page 10). Easter makes our Christian faith possible and gives ultimate meaning to our lives, he says.
What a glorious truth to celebrate. And what better way to express my commitment to following Jesus than to delve into the closets of my soul, ridding myself of the stuff cluttering the shelves, hiding in the corners and blocking me from seeing what matters most. One of the things that frequently creeps into our lives and needs to be repeatedly cleared away is fear. Fear of cancer or some other life-changing health issue. Fear of job loss or of not being able to pay the bills. Fear of being robbed or assaulted. Fear of another terrorist attack or school shooting. Fear of immigrants and refugees.
“There is no fear in love,” says 1 John 4:18. “But perfect love drives out fear.” Jesus’ death and resurrection is the ultimate example of perfect love. Fear is swept away because of God’s great love. Being a follower of Jesus is serious business, but it is also joyful business. God is at work in our world, and he is counting on you and me to give ourselves wholeheartedly to bringing his kingdom to our broken and fearful world (1 Cor. 15:58). During this season of preparation for Resurrection Sunday, let’s look closely for those places where God is moving and stirring in our families, neighborhoods and workplaces. Let’s join him there, overcoming any fears that could hinder the hope, peace, love and joy that God offers us and those around us.