As I type this, I'm sitting by the window, looking out at late winter bleakness, cold lasting too long, a dreary blanket of colorlessness that hovers over my world. I can't help but think that Lent happens at this time of year for a very good reason. There is such a longing everywhere for the warmth of spring, for the smallest sign of new growth through the frozen sod, for resurrection. As soon as the sun appears, with it's frail, late winter warmth, I find a reason to go outside and feel it's warmth on my skin, making me feel alive again.
In these days leading up to the season of new life, feeling the cold hardness of the ground of my own soul makes me long for the miracle of dormant seed springing to new life. I long to see the treasure in my jar of clay that really has nothing to do with me, but with the gracious gift given to me though the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Last Sunday's sermon was on Peter, his denial and redemption. The thing that amazed me most was the way that Jesus came to find Peter, who had gone back to fishing because he didn't know what else to do. Their meeting on the beach in John 21 ends with this beautiful conversation:
"Peter, do you love me with unconditional love...the way I love you?"
"Lord, you know I love you the best I can, I love you as a dear friend."
"Peter, do you love me with unconditional love...like I love you?"
"Lord, you know I love you as a dear friend, like a brother."
"Peter do you love me like a dear friend, like a brother?"
"Lord, you know everything, you know I do."
And then, Jesus reveals to Peter the way that he will die for him, revealing that Peter really does love him with unconditional love even though his weak heart doesn't know it. He who knows the end from the beginning sees the Seed of Love planted in this man called The Rock.
Jesus sees in us the Seeds of Love. When we acknowledge our own weakness and inability to love him, he meets us there and speaks prophetically to our weak hearts:
"Child, you WILL love me with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. You WILL love me with the kind of love I have shown to you. You WILL lay down your life for me, as I have done for you."