Do you ever wish that you could “un-know” something? I’m not talking about merely forgetting it or pretending it never happened, but really and truly having it wiped completely from your memory. In certain cases, I can see how this would be a gift. For example, when I was in college I realized that if I started dating someone, it could possibly be the person I would end up marrying. Being the forward thinker I am and also determining that I wouldn’t sabotage my ‘tall’ genes with a short future wife and mother to my children, (I was quite the planner, I guess) I decided that 5’7″ or taller would be my height requirement for any woman I would date. Along came Jessica and our first phone conversation. We have a nice chat and decide on plans for a first date. About to hang up, I quickly remembered my height requirement and hastily asked, “By the way, how tall are you?” “Oh, 5’6″-5’7″”, she says. Relieved, I respond, “Oh good, that will do…”
I wish Jess could “un-know” that little bit of our history, but at least I prepared her for a lifetime of awkward comments and foot-in-mouth moments. You can’t say she wasn’t warned!
I’m betting you thought of something in life you wish you could un-hear or un-see or un-know. We all do. But imagine the opportunity to experience something life-changing all over again. Holding your child the first time. Saying “I do” again. Having that last day with grandma or mom or dad again. How about an extraordinary God moment all over again? If you grew up in the church or in a family of faith, you likely heard many stories about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and their workings in history and today. Those stories were only new to you once, and now that you’ve heard them, the endings, while amazing, are predictable.
This Lent, I have this nagging feeling that makes me want to un-know how it all ends, so I can do it all over again for the first time. Part of me wants to be in the midst of the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the somber last supper with Jesus and his closest friends. I’d like to be surprised by Judas and his betrayal in the garden, to watch for the first time as Jesus heals the servant. I’d like to feel the disappointment of hearing Peter betray Jesus three times. I’d never want to witness what Jesus went through in his beating and torture, I’m sure I’d run away overwhelmed, but I’d feel the profound nature of his love as he endured that pain and cruelty because of his love for us. I want to feel and experience the animosity of the crowd as Jesus walked toward the hill, I want my world to be shattered by the sound of the hammer and nails as Jesus is put on the cross. I want to hear him say, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” I want to see the sky turn black, to see the people realize what they have done.
Perhaps it seems morbid to want to experience all of that as though for the first time again, but only by entering wholly into the story does the reality of Lent come into focus. The cross stands in sharp contrast on the horizon, beckoning us to come near and see what is happening. Again, imagine if this was the first time you heard the story. It must be over, Jesus is dead, God has lost.
Come and live the rest of the story for the first time again. Ask God to give you a fresh heart as we conquer death with Jesus. Prepare the way for the Lord as you join us for Easter!