Joel 2:12-13 “Yet even now return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.  Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love…”

I was raised in revival-style Christianity.  Every year an evangelist came to our small church, parked his RV in our gravel parking lot and stayed a week, holding services each night.  He was there to hold revival.  He preached salvation, repentance, the need to be born again and filled with the Holy Spirit.  No one fell asleep.

There were, to be sure, problems with this brand of Christianity: scheduling God to do a deep and dramatic spiritual work; whipping up the emotions; an unbalanced focus on religious experience.  There is something, however, to the comment that a Bishop is reported to have said after interviewing an especially placid candidate for ministry: “I’d rather tone down a zealot than resurrect a corpse!”

In spite of weakness (as in any tradition) there is a deep truth at the heart of revivalism: the people of God drift away from God.  But our God, because he loves us, calls us back. “Even now return to me with all your heart”, He says through the prophet.

Lent is our revival, or if you prefer, renewal period.  Have you floated away from God? Is God on the outer edge of your life?  Has spiritual complacency crept in?  More concerned with the big game, the market numbers or the steady stream of blaring headlines than with eternal things?

Lent is a time to make time.  Time to be with God and with the Big Questions.  What is the foundation of my life?  Where am I headed?  What does God need to forgive in me?  How do I know I am loved?  How can I show that love to others today?

Make time at the beginning of each day to ponder these sorts of things in light of scripture, the cross of Christ – all in the context of prayer – and it will be rich Lent – a time of true renewal in Christ leading up to Easter.

God is calling each us to return to Him because of his steadfast, abundant love.  Amen.

Ben Wagner