I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Nehemiah 6:3
Nehemiah was consumed with his great work and would not be distracted or dissuaded from what he had come to do. Nehemiah is a living, breathing metaphor of Jesus, tucked deep in the recesses of the Old Testament.
Think about it: Jesus travelled a great distance (isn’t that an understatement!) to Planet Earth for a GREAT work (to make a way for us to have a forever relationship with the Father!) and would not be dissuaded from this great work of dying on the cross to atone for our sins and rising from the dead to give us an eternal and glorious hope. (Spoiler alert: This Easter, in three identical gatherings at PCC, we will focus on this celebrating History’s Greatest Comeback.)
To prepare for that celebration, for centuries, the church has entered into a season called Lent.
Lent was established in the 4th century as 46 days (40 days, not counting Sundays). Lent is an intensely penitential period as we examine our sinful natures and return to the God we have hurt, through our own rebelliousness, time and again. Lent is also an opportunity to contemplate what our Lord really did for us on the Cross – and it wasn’t pretty. But ultimately, the purpose of Lent does not stop at sadness and despair. It points us to the hope of the Resurrection and the day when every tear will be dried (Rev. 21:3).
I heard a story recently that helped embed the purpose of Lent into me. It was a true story of Apollo 13 astronaut Jim Lovell about a mission he flew off the coast of Japan in 1950. He had missed the rendezvous point when his instruments mistakenly picked up a signal leading him away from his aircraft carrier. Lovell felt hopelessly lost as he flew circles in the dark over the stormy Sea of Japan. As he tried to use his map light, suddenly all of the electronics in the cockpit shorted out and everything went black. With the absence of light in the cockpit, his eyes began to adjust to the dark, making it possible to see the faint trail of phosphorescent algae which had been churned up by the propellers of the carrier. He began to follow the trail which lighted the way home to the carrier where he landed safely. Were it not for the failed light and the resulting darkness, Lovell might have been forced to ditch his plane. The darkness saved him.
My prayer for us all during this Lenten season is that we would slow down and focus on the crucifixion and sufferings of Jesus so as to make our Good Friday gathering and Easter celebration rich. If you are looking for a fantastic Lenten devotional, click here and sign up to receive a devotional daily in your inbox.
This Sunday we will be in Nehemiah 6, looking yet again at the opposition Nehemiah faced as the wall neared completion. I’m loving this study of the book of Nehemiah and look forward to walking through chapter 6 with many of you this weekend.
God bless you, PCC!
I love being your pastor!