God, I want to pray and tell you that Lent is too hard, that fasting is too frustrating, the meditation too unmanageable, your Spirit too distant. But at the very least the two of us would both know that I would be lying. It has nothing to do with the lack of food that my soul is faint, and it’s not the season of repentance that makes me so unsatisfied with you. It’s the fact that I spend my days in weak faith, praying constantly for signs and testaments of your presence, power, even existence. And then when you give me an answer—a profound understanding of your love, a wrenching renewal of the heart, a coming of the Spirit in power—I find myself the next day equally unsatisfied, haunted, doubting. It is enough; now, Lord show me something better.
Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” Then he was afraid; he got up and fled for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongs to Judah; he left his servant there. – I Kings 19:1-3
I spend a day witnessing glory of God after glory of God, and the next morning I flee, running as though someone were chasing me, judging me, proving to me that all that happened was a lie. There are so many reasons to doubt out there—some better than others, none adequate—but that’s not why I doubt you. Why I spend so many days in despair questioning who you are, how faithful your promises are, how righteous your rule is because I live in fear of the world. I worry that someone will prove my faith wrong, that I will turn out to be despicable in the face of humans, that my joys will be snatched away.
But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again. – I Kings 19:4-6
But God, this wringing of my hands, this fear of the world isn’t the end. Before I do anything, before I fix my theology or submit myself more fully to you, you come to me again. Not in the powerful demonstrations of your might I thought I wanted but gave me so little real connection to you, but in simple care for my needs. You find me when I nap in the middle of the day after classes because I can’t face starting my paper. You feed me with spiritual food when I miss three meals in a row because I struggle to manage my time well. And when I need sleep, you give me sleep! But then you wake me. You feed me again, not worrying that I had just gone through the same process only a little while before. In then in your most incredible act of love, you refuse to let me stay where I am, no matter how much I ask you to leave me be.
The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.” He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God. At that place he came to a cave, and spent the night there. – I Kings 19:7-8
No God, the reason I keep following you, is because deep down there is something—someone—calling out that the journey is not over. That if I but learn to suffer a little while I will come to see the glory of God. To reach the rock that will shelter me, take my hand and show me, gently, once again, that the world I am so preoccupied with is the world he has overcome. My concerns are not your concerns God, but your concern is for me.
It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason, Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters saying,
“I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters,
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.”
– Hebrews 2:10-12
You walked this path to the mountain of God more faithfully than I ever have or ever will, Jesus. Just like Moses and Elijah you fasted for forty days and nights sustained on the word of God. I’m not able to do that. And when, after all of your tender ministrations, I stand in front of the presence of God and prepare to complain that I am alone, I trust you to speak a better word, to proclaim that in you I have been made perfect through sufferings even as with you I am being made perfect through sufferings. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, no matter how selective my memory or how stubborn my unbelief, the fact that you are not ashamed to call me brother is joy enough.
Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
Therefore let all who are faithful
offer prayer to you;
at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters
shall not reach them.
You are a hiding place for me;
you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with glad cries of deliverance
– Psalm 32:1, 6-7
God, I know that this Lent, and the rest of my life, will be filled with a lot of prayers like this, prayers where I’m angry with you, my memory is short, and I’m hungry for more of you even though I’m unwilling to let go of my spiritual junk food. But I will walk with you and your saints with joy because there is a cross and there is a resurrection. Lord, in your Spirit you have given all of us enough food to ensure that the journey is not too much for us. It is enough now, O Lord. So once more I am ready to walk towards that Day with the joy of the Lord in my heart.
In the name of Jesus Christ,
Caleb King ’23 is a freshman in Wigglesworth.