The prophet Isaiah calls us on this first day of the Lent (Ash Wednesday) to:
6. Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.
7 Let the wicked forsake their ways
and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
Walter Bruggemann in his book of reflections for Lent entitled, “A Way Other Than Our Own,” notes, “These verses are a familiar call to worship or a call to repentance, not a bad accent for Lent. The face of God shown here is of a Lord near at hand, ready to forgive, a God of grace. But this is a God to whom a turn must be made, a God of demand, a God of demand ready to be a God of grace . . . not just hard demand, not just easy grace, but grace and demand, the way all serious relationships work. The imperative is around four verbs, “seek, call, forsake, return,” good Lenten verbs. But this is not about generic repentance for generic sin. I believe, rather, the sin addressed concerns for Jews too eager to become Babylonians, too easy to compromise Jewish identity, Jewish faith, Jewish discipline—in order to get along in a Babylonian empire that had faith in other gods with other disciplines. The imperatives are summons to come back to an original identity, an elemental discipline, a primal faith.” (Brueggemann, Walter. A Way other than Our Own: Devotions for Lent (p. 2). Presbyterian Publishing. Kindle Edition.)
“The purpose of any “scripture” is to answer the identity question, to tell people who God says they are. A text is only called “scripture” because someone believes that text has power to define and transform life. This is certainly the case with the Bible. The Bible seeks to tell us who we are, who God says we are—and should be—how we fit in God’s purposes, and how we should live because of our identity.” (Snodgrass, Klyne R. Who God Says You Are: A Christian Understanding of Identity (Kindle Locations 83-86). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.. Kindle Edition.)
As we begin our 2018 journey in Lent may we seek, call, forsake and turn to the one who gives us our true idenity — Christ Jesus our Lord and Saviour. As the Philips NT version of Romans 12:1-2 puts it, “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.”