And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.” And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only.
— Mark 9:1-8
At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, John the Baptist announced his coming in fulfillment of Isaiah 40: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” This is the cry of Lent: Prepare the way of the Lord! Make room for him in your life.
Have you ever really thought about that? Making room for Jesus is not easy in our world. Our lives are often scheduled to the minute. And yet the cry of John is still heard today.
An appropriate response to this cry is to take stock of our lives; to reconsider how we are living our lives in light of God’s presence and power made available to us in Jesus. And that is what Lent is for, to reflect on our lives as they are and as they could be.
The point of Lent is to reorient life God-ward. This reorientation has to do with desert and wilderness. A “wilderness experience” in our language usually means one has been gone for a while and now returns with new insight or perspective, “a new lease on life.” Whether it is a trip to the third world, or a hike in the mountains, people are stripped of their usual comforts, removed from the safety of familiarity, and are forced to see the world from a different vantage point.
If we approach Lent like we should, it is something like a wilderness experience. We should shake up our lives significantly enough that when we reach for our usual comforts and grasp a fistful of air, we are forced to cling to Christ – his body, his blood.
In Lent we focus on getting away from the life of flesh and into the life of the Spirit, denying our ways and embracing God’s. The point of giving things up is not to be reminded of how much we miss them, but rather to be awakened to how much we miss God and long for his life-giving Spirit. This means, of course, that Lent is not only about giving up things. It is about preparing our hearts for our savior.
As we get closer to Holy Week, will you be ready?