Tomorrow Lent begins. And so, I’m beginning a daily – or near daily – effort to write a few (or more) words here. Although there is no one overarching theme that will be pursued, some patterns may emerge. Perhaps “Learn to Live Loved” – in the title above – will be a worthy mantra, if the reader needs one to connect the musings of this journeyer through the season.
The Shack will be hitting theaters this Friday, and in one scene in the book Mack is given just this important injunction for his way: learn to live loved. Note that he is not told to earn God’s love like a badge or high mark or grade: he is not commanded to seek God’s love like a lost penny or a treasure on an impossibly high shelf. No, it is not something he is to chase, though it is a discipline. It is something he is to live. And, I believe, learning so to live is a central discipline for the disciple. As such, it takes work. It does for me!
Learn to live loved – knowing you are loved, believing you are loved, setting your heart by the fact that you are loved, consulting constantly the fact that you are loved, be secure in the truth that you are loved. Live from there. What won’t be necessary? Tons! What does it reorder? Tons! And what about all the others who are loved? Oh yeah. And the ethics there? Uh-huh. But start at the beginning.
You are loved.
As Lent begins, I’m reminded of the fact that the Anglo-Saxon root of the word Lent connects with lengthening. May our awareness be lengthened, as daylight expands in this hemisphere. May the light of this love draw forth new tendrils of growth in us, not to achieve some abstract holiness, but because we will love to grow in the directions God calls forth in us. And whatever our Lenten plans may be, let us recall that – at heart – we hope to receive ever more deeply that which God would offer us – this amazing love – and learn to better live loved.