Written by Matt Benton, Pastor of Bethel United Methodist Church in Woodbridge, VA.
That Wednesday morning in July began like many that summer: I woke up, got ready for the day, and then took my oldest son to swim practice where I would wait on the pool deck doing some reading or catching up on emails before going into the church office. And that’s when the phone rang. It was my gastroenterologist’s office saying they needed to follow up with me on some test results following the colonoscopy I’d had done earlier in the week. The doctor would see me the next day. The next 24 hours felt like 24 days.
The next day, I received the news: I had something growing inside me that if left untreated would kill me. Colon cancer. Not the news I wanted to receive; not the news anyone ever wants to receive. Thus began a whirlwind season of my life: tests, scans, doctors’ appointments, surgery, and eventual chemotherapy. Crazy google searches while I spent days and nights anxiously awaiting pathology reports. All in the hopes of one day feeling healed and whole, all in the hopes of a future.
When the Word of the Lord came to the prophets, more often than not that Word was not news that Israel wanted to hear. The prophets came declaring to Israel, and to us, that we have something growing inside of us, individually and collectively, and that if left untreated it will lead to our destruction and demise. Not the news anyone ever wants to receive. In fact, those that came bearing the Word of the Lord were often beaten, stoned, or killed.
And yet, the news the prophets brought is news we need to hear if we are ever to experience healing and wholeness. News we need to hear if we will see the Lord’s salvation in our hearts, in our lives, in our world. News we need to hear if we are to have hope for a future.
This Lent, the prophets come to us anew to deliver messages of judgment. This Lent, the prophets come to us anew to deliver messages of God’s unfailing love. This Lent, the prophets come to us anew to deliver messages of God’s promised salvation, God’s promised future. This Lent, the prophets come to us anew to deliver messages of God’s unending faithfulness.
And then we shall recall, remember, and relive what that faithfulness looks like in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
We invite you to join us through this Lenten devotional to incline your ear to the voices from the wilderness, the prophetic voices calling us to return to our God that we might be healed.
Note: There are devotional entries throughout Lent, but they are not “daily.” In the early part of Lent, there are entries for Monday, Wednesday, and Friday each week. As we approach Holy Week, these entries become more frequent.