'What are you doing now?'
While visiting family in my Tennessee hometown a couple of decades ago, I decided to take my kids to lunch. I was standing in line in a fast food restaurant when I spotted someone in front of me who looked familiar.
“Margaret?” I said. The woman turned around, saw me, and said, “David!” It had been years since I had seen the person who was my very first high school love. We were an item for the entire freshman year.
After catching up a bit, she asked, “What are you doing now?” I replied that I was a pastor in Georgia.
She laughed hysterically, wiped a tear from her eye, and said, “You always were so funny! What are you really doing now?”
People really do change. Or, at least, the possibility for change exists.
Which is what Lent, which began last Wednesday on Ash Wednesday, is all about.
Yes, Lent is about self-examination, contrition, restitution, spiritual discipline, confession, and repentance — but if change is not the result, then a great deal of energy has been expended for naught.
The Psalmist sang, “O sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done wonderful things ...”(Psa. 98:1a). Surely, one of the greatest miracles is the reality of a redeemed, changed, and fruitful life.
The truth of sin and evil is difficult to deny but so is the truth that God “pardons all your iniquities” (Psa. 103:3) and “redeems your life from the pit” (Psa. 103:4).
Since I had last seen Margaret, I had graduated college, had served in the Marine Corps, had married and had fathered three sons, and had discovered that I had a serious need for change in my life.
It came during a time of crisis when I, a good church kid, embraced with passion the “God who is faithful” (1 Cor. 1:18). For me, the inward change was radical. I felt like a completely new person and not simply one who had been “improved” (Mark 2:21-22).
The change, if we are willing and amenable, continues whether in or outside the season of Lent, because we are always a work in progress.
But Lent does have a way of bringing focus. The season calls us to examine our lives in light of God’s Word and will for us. Lent, in short, forces upon us the question, “What are you really doing now?”
[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277. Services are held Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese which consists of Georgia and Tennessee (www.midsouthdiocese.org) and is his denomination’s associate endorser for military chaplains. He may contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.]