Simply Begin Again: A Lesson From Lent That Extends Beyond

by Apr 7, 2017Cultivate

To be honest, I’ve experienced a series of emotional and spiritual derailments during this Lent season. Plans I’ve made for spiritual disciplines have frequently been broken and recreated since Lent began in early March. Those derailing moments and altered plans have shared a message from the heart of Christ for me and, I believe, for you, too. He’s whispered, “Simply begin again.”

Brother Lawrence is a monk whose spiritual journey is recorded in what we now know as the book, The Practice of the Presence of God. In it, a friend who enjoyed conversations with Brother Lawrence shares about his straightforward and liberating interaction with the grace of Jesus, even in failure.

This friend writes, when Brother Lawrence “had failed in his duty, he only confessed his fault, saying to God, I shall never do otherwise, if you leave me to myself; it is You who must hinder my falling and mend what is amiss. Then after this, he gave himself no further uneasiness about it, [for] God never failed to grant it, as he had often experienced.”

I love this invitation to frankness and simplicity in our prayers. I am practicing this way of childlike trust, to quickly return, confess, and move forward, knowing I’m forgiven and empowered to simply begin again.

We are good at ruminating, self-shaming, remaining stuck in place, replaying our mistakes or settling for where we’ve been. But we serve the same holy God who said to Israel, “I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again.” Isaiah 45:25 (NLT). God, for his own sake, forgets and blots out our sins. If that is how God moves forward when we come to him and confess, we should do the same.

This Lent has been full of the reminders of Ash Wednesday: I am dust. However, with that knowledge has come a beautiful hunger and safety in prayer where I can feel him lift the load of my frailty and failings and hear again his whispers of strength and grace.

Where have you fallen short or stumbled back into old patterns this Lent?
How can you confess and lay it down to start again today?

Starting again is not about changing behavior but about transformed motivation. To borrow the wisdom of Brother Lawrence once again, “Our sanctification does not depend upon changing our ways but in doing that for God’s sake which we commonly do for our own.”

This is good news for me. If you surveyed my life from the outside during this Lent season, you wouldn’t note very many tangible changes, but I can tell you he has drawn my heart deeper.

In moments when my mind would typically be lost in the clouds, he’s turned my attention to gratitude, prayer for others, and worship. In moments of broken-heartedness, he has held me in truth and reminded me to confess and begin again, leading me more quickly away from shame, back into grace.

The grassy pathway in my heart that leads from my self-centered world back into praise and trust for who he is becoming well worn. His Spirit is reminding and leading me over and over: “Simply begin again.”

Have you fallen short of your own expectations for Lent?
What is he teaching you about your need for a Savior this Easter through
your shortcomings or derailed plans?

This Lent, may Christ be near, beckoning you to return to confess more readily than before and equipping you to walk in the reliance and freedom that come from imitating the way he forgets your sins and walks forward into new beginnings.

And when our Easter celebrations conclude, may we remember the freedom we’ve received. May simply begin again become a slogan of grace that moves us from our stuck and shame-filled places to unshackled forward movement with him in every season.


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