“Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.” ~Gimli, “The Lord of the Rings”
Today is the beginning of the Lenten Season, which has become a time to give up one of your favorite things for forty days. (It’s okay, you can cheat on Sundays.) Whether you are giving up chocolate, soda, television, facebook or anything else, it has primarily become a time to change on the surface, and only as a symbol of what you are willing to give up for God. As soon as Lent is over we oftentimes gorge ourselves on whatever it is we have given up. So, then, what is the purpose of Lent, what good does it do, and is it a worthwhile endeavor at all?
If this is all Lent is, then no, it is not really worthwhile because we are not doing anything that could change us. There are many things that Lent is supposed to be about as a season, and I don’t intend to cover them all here, just one. Lent is, or at least can be, about journeying with the Messiah from the relative safety and comfort of a normal life towards a life of sacrifice, from the chasing after ease at all costs towards seeking the Kingdom of God in an oftentimes hostile world.
This journey is certainly not for the faint of heart, nor is it for those who want their faith to do something for them instead of asking something of them. This road will darken the further we travel down it, and it will test us to the depths of our faith. This is indeed the road that led to the Messiah’s suffering and crucifixion, and to the death of many of His followers in the early church. This is a road that leads many to say farewell to following Christ.
But it is the fact that the road darkens that calls us to follow the Messiah down it. If we are truly people of the light then the road which darkens is where we are called to shine our light. It does not do us any good to shine our light where there is already light, but where there is darkness our light is needed. This is the journey which Lent beckons us on, the journey that shapes our faith, that strengthen our character and provides us the opportunity to do something tangible. I hope that we are not found to be faithless during this journey.