The Dangerous Grace of Lent

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.
I am only beginning to explore this journey that is Lent.  This season was not a part of my faith tradition growing up, but it seems to be growing more popular among evangelicals these days.
This long season of Lent is not a frivolous sort of giving up as it appeared to a fairly oblivious teenage self (fasting from M&M’s anyone?) but a giving up for the purpose of giving away.  It is a period of self-denial in order to become more unified with the Spirit of Christ.
It is a difficult thing to be unified with Jesus.  Gazing into the eyes of Christ for too long has frightening consequences.  When you stare at the cross, you find yourself looking at your own death, at your sin and its just consequence.  You come face to face with all of the spiritual deformities that are in your own soul and find yourself tempted to turn away from the harsh reflection.
Crucified with Christ
When you gaze at Christ crucified for these forty days that are Lent, you are pulled close to the grace and forgiveness of your death finished for you.  But it is a dangerous grace.  This grace is one that does not leave you unfinished.  It is a grace that purges and renews.
The purpose of Lent is to awaken in you a sense of your own sin, your guilt for your sin, and your sorrow over your sin.  The purpose of Lent is to awaken “the sense of gratitude for the forgiveness of sins.  To (awaken) or to motivate the works of love and the work for justice that one does out of the gratitude for the forgiveness of one’s sins.” (Edna Hong in Bread and Wine) 
This grace can only be approached at the end of Lent.  It is a long journey, these forty days.  It is a necessary journey, one that fights the apathy and smugness of this world in which we often find it easy to spot deformities in the souls of others and find it also easy to turn away from the crippled places of our own souls.
Yet we do not travel this path of Lent alone.  God’s Spirit Himself travels with us, maneuvering us down this steep path that ends at the foot of the cross.  As we stand at the foot of the cross, stripped of our illusions about ourselves, we gaze at the battered and broken body of the One who came to rescue us.  This body of Jesus that is our grace.  This grace that brings fire.  This fire that purges and cleanses and does not consume but instead resurrects us into a new self.
Gaze at the Cross
It is beautiful, this amazing and dangerous grace.
Dangerous Grace
When through fiery trials your pathway shall lie
My grace all sufficient shall be your supply.
The flame shall not hurt you, my only design
Your dross to consume and your gold to refine.
~ How Firm a Foundation

Credit to Edna Hong and Walter Wangerin in Bread and Wine for many of the ideas in this post.


This week’s post is written by Jason Wetherholt, who serves as the family minister at our church. Along with his ministerial role, he is also an accomplished musician and I have a lot of fun playing in a worship band with him for our high school service. He is an amazing leader and a godly man, one whom I respect and am glad to call a friend. I pray that he is still around, leading our family ministry, when my girls reach high school!


God is preparing you for what he’s prepared for you.”
I heard a speaker make that statement somewhere around 50 times during a 30 minute presentation at a conference a few years ago. I didn’t really like it that much when he heard it. To be honest, I thought it was lame.
Enter the long list of platitudes that make us all want to puke. “The speed of the leader…if you can’t take the heat…people don’t care how much you know…blah, blah, blah.” So into the mental cache file it went, never again to see the light of day…or so I thought.
Fast forward a few years. Some friends and I decide to start a band. Because I work at a church [specifically with teenagers] and this band plays secular music at bars in the community, I went to great lengths to make sure this had nothing to do with my church life. I said on several occasions things like, “Now listen, if I were to build model airplanes in my garage as a hobby, would I need to invite students? Am I not allowed to do things on the side that have NOTHING to do with my church job?”
They’re totally separate from each other…well, I thought they were.
In case you didn’t know, starting a band and finding places for that band to play in the community…well, it’s like taking a crash course in small business management.
Marketing. Branding. Sales. Navigating the goofy rules Facebook has for pages. Getting someone to feel comfortable enough in a 3 minute phone call that they agree [without ever meeting you] to give you a little bit of money and a lot of time on a Friday night.
All totally separate from my church job…or so I thought.
Then all of the sudden, as a church staff we decide it’s absolutely time we address a huge “Communications” need we’ve known about for years but weren’t sure how we were going to handle. But we’re probably not ready to hire a full time person, and we certainly don’t have the money to pay them what they’re worth.
What we really need is someone who could shift their current role a bit. Someone who cares deeply about Communications. Someone who has been growing in the areas of Marketing, Branding, Sales, Navigating Facebook…
Wait…are you making the connection? You’re probably doing so a lot quicker than I did.
God…preparing someone for what he’s prepared for him.
I won’t bore you with all the other ways he’s been working in my heart and mind during all of my years of work…both before and during full time ministry…since about age sixteen till now. But it’s obvious when I look back that this is a season for which the preparation started long ago.
It’s been amazing to watch God connect about twenty ostensibly unrelated dots over a sixteen-year span into his plan for the next season of my life.
Might God be preparing you right now for what he’s prepared for you in the next season? How will you ever know if you don’t invest yourself fully and learn everything you can?
 Jason Wetherholt
Assistant Regional Blogger