Holey, Wholly, Holy: A Lenten Journey of Refinement has taken my heart by storm. It’s impact on my life is something I did not expect.
I have spent many years watching as many of my friends would walk an aisle in church to receive ash marks in the shape of a cross on their forehead and discuss what they were going to give up for the next 40 days. Then, for that many days, I would hear them complain or comment about what they were giving up.
What I never heard was the “why”. Why walk through Lent – only to complain about it? Was it really worthy it?
No one offered a reason and I never asked. I thought it was some code language someone would ‘let me in on’. And I thought perhaps God would share that information with me if He wanted me to know it.
Now, I know because I read Holey, Wholly, Holy, by Kris Camealy. While reading this amazing book about Lent, I discovered the why.
Kris’s own journey through Lent, researching, asking and reading she found that “what God calls us to give up, really, is ourselves. The paltry offerings we prefer to give up, while they feel challenging, are perhaps less pleasing because we fail to give up the one thing that stands between us and Christ. Ourselves.”
Through Kris’s words I find that Lent is a season dedicated to giving up something I would normally enjoy. The irony is found in the truth that she shares – that one thing we really need to give up or sacrifice is ourselves. It sounds easy enough, doesn’t it – just give up our own needs, desires and focus on God. But, as Kris points out, to do this, we must travel through ‘redemption’ and in that place we run into our old ‘shame, arrogance and pride’ (paraphrase). While we might desire to run away, if we take a step toward that beautiful cross, we can find the beauty of true sacrifice.
After all, Christ already paid the true price for our sins. His sweat poured out with blood the night before he was purged for the sake of those who would give up the same thing – our own lives.
Accountability and Lent? No, I haven’t lost my rocker here- stay with me. In Holey, Wholly, Holy, Krist shares how she tried to hide from something that God kept calling her to remember and face. Oh, sweet sister, how often do we try to run, hide, cover up or just flat out ignore something so we don’t have to really face it? All too often, we will even run to friends and form some sort of accountability alliance with others hoping to ‘change’ but still finding it possible to gloss over the ugly covered up behind the makeup, laughs and giggles. But the Holy one, He knows our hearts, our hurts, our struggles and our sins. Only when we do what Kris did – where we sit and ask “What is it I need to see, Lord?” can we TRULY find accountability that sinks through our hearts and to our souls.
This is life-changing accountability.
It entered the world in a garden and causes every heart to be born unpure. The only way we can be purged of this horrid word is through confession and true repentance. That confession can come only AFTER the accountability, the Holy Spirit opens our heart – and “We lay bare our hearts before the Lord, a cutting of sorts, allowing the poison to bleed out…...”(Kris Cameally Holy, Wholly, Holy) Through that purge, the confession, the dying to self, we can live Lent and Easter everyday of our lives. Accountability and confession are only worthy of our time when we sit and repent – truly TURN AWAY from the sin that is crouching at our door. Only when we die to our own selfish sinful ways and lay that sin-idol down and walk the narrow path are we truly able to shine the light that Christ wants to illuminate.
This year, travel through Lent and the days to come with the comfort and truth of Holey, Wholly, Holy: A Lenten Journey of Refinement. Kris’s words will leave you nodding your head, crying and knowing you are not alone! We are not meant to walk this path alone. The road is narrow and it is difficult finding those truly on the path, but Kris’ words will remind you, the path has been created for you – what’s important is keeping your eyes open for the one who paved it with his own blood.