Looking back on it now, I think it was a rather drastic move, on my part. With my trusty, sharpened garden pruning shears in hand and then–– only six or perhaps sevens strategic snips later… the leathery foliage; some tattered fronds and leaves fell to the wayside around my Lenten Rose. This herbaceous perennial in our patio garden has faithfully bridged the gap between winter and spring during the past few years. This winter was the first time I have attempted cutting back the weathered and matted leaves from the previous year’s growth. What did I find underneath the old leaves… new, emerging growth!
This month, we enter into the season of Lent–– a time for both preparation and reflection, in anticipation of Easter. Traditionally in the church, it is a season characterized by repentance, reconciliation and renewal. Isn’t this the perfect time, to allow the Spirit of God to freely move in our hearts, with “pruning shears in hand”? Allow Him to remove the old patterns and preoccupations, while encouraging the new life of Christ to emerge. I think the Apostle Paul had this in mind, when he reflected upon the work of grace that Christ had started in his life. He said this: “I want to know Christ— yes, to know the power of His resurrection and participation in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:10-14, NIV)
“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead…” Isn’t that the message of this Lenten season? Like my Lenten Rose, it is not that I have “arrived”–– but by God’s grace I realize that I am emerging each day, with signs of healthy, new growth; pressing on while reaching toward the Son!