A Meditation for Failed Lenten Disciplines

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion on the day of Jesus Christ.” -Philippians 1.6

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He began. He began in baptism. With us all. But unfortunately it hasn’t gone so well with all of us; we’ve interrupted his good work. We’ve abandoned our father’s house and gone out into a strange land.

But even if we’ve abandoned him, he hasn’t given up on us. He’s followed us the whole way. And he calls after us where ever we go. Even in the middle of sin’s vilest moments, we hear his mild and serious voice.

Already in our childhood years, at confirmation time, as teenagers, he overwhelms us with his grace. Finally, we stop and he convinces us that there is no doubt that we need to turn ourselves around.

And then he puts our old selves to death. He talks with us about our sinful lives and our sinful hearts, until all our escape routes are closed off and we can’t believe that there is any way for us to be saved. But at the same time he grabs hold of us. The grace of baptism which we had closed ourselves off from comes streaming back into our souls. We were baptized into Jesus’ death and now we behold the Word and see the Lamb of God.

And then? What do we do with all of this? We screw it up. Before repentance, we fled every time his gentle voice called to us. We fussed and lied about ourselves and about God, trying to find peace in sin. But he came to us and he melted our defiant will. He gave us repentance.

And after repentance? Have we given him up screwing up? No! We grieve him and disappoint him every day with our selfishness and self-indulgence and quarreling and indifference and mistrust!

But he continues the good work that he had begun and picks us back up when we’ve fallen. What incredible dependability!

From Hallesby, Ole. Daglig Fornyelse: Andaktsbok for Hjemmet. Translated by Kristofer Coffman. Oslo: Lutherstiftelsens Forlag, 1951, 75.

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