Forty-seven days ago, on March 5, Ash Wednesday, I made a commitment to read the New Testament from the beginning to the end, using the Lent Challenge (a daily reading guide) in preparation for celebrating Easter. (Go here to find out more about the Lent Challenge.) It was an amazing walk of faith and the renewing of my heart for the gospel of grace. It took a lot of discipline to rearrange my routine to have a daily devotional but it was so worth it!
The daily routine of reading those God breathed ancient words that are always living and always relevant kept me hungry for more. A few years ago, I asked God to keep me thirsty and to keep me empty, to never be satisfied so I would crave more of his grace. He is answering that prayer.
I began to write a journal about one or two exciting details I discovered in the daily reading. I named the journal, “40 Gifts of Lent” because discovering something new and exciting in God’s word everyday is like opening a new gift. You can read about 40 Gifts of Lent here.
40 Gifts of Lent became the online journal for my devotions and personal commitment to write everyday, Monday through Saturday, for 40 days. I particularly enjoyed posting a verse and a photo on Sunday’s for Sunday Respite. All in all, this equals to 47 days of consecutive journal entries on this blog, More Grace. Writing everyday was very challenging yet it’s been the most rewarding experience.
So here it is, the day after Easter and the finish of 40 Gifts of Lent. I found myself going back to the tomb and looking in. This is what I think… the stone that sealed the tomb was rolled away not for Jesus to get out but for us to look in! And Mary was one of those that looked inside and contemplated the emptiness and struggled with doubt and unbelief.
Jesus said to her, “Mary.” (John 20:16)
I love this! Jesus called Mary by her name! She immediately recognizes Jesus. She knows his voice. She hears him. She sees him. Mary believes! Jesus speaks in to her unbelief. Jesus paid the ultimate price for her unbelief. I think it’s okay and good to look inside the empty tomb over and over again. Whenever I doubt that God loves me, I look inside that empty tomb. Whenever I doubt that I can trust God no matter what, I look inside that empty tomb. And when I don’t believe, I pray for Him to help my unbelief while asking Him to forgive me for that unbelief. Jesus paid the ultimate price for that!
The day after Easter is everyday of preaching the gospel to yourself. There is really never an end to 40 gifts of Lent either, because the number of gifts will continue to multiply each time I hear God call my name and each time I am filled to overflowing and then some more.
I am so thrilled you enjoyed the #LentChallenge, Donna. And the imagery of Mary recognizing Jesus’ voice-breathtaking!
Margaret, I was blessed beyond expectation. Let’s do it again! Thanks so much for your encouragement.