An Unexpected Journey – A reflection by Rev. Dr. Robin D. Stoops

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An Unexpected Journey – A reflection by Rev. Dr. Robin D. Stoops

As we begin the 2024 Lenten season, read a reflection written by Rev. Dr. Robin D. Stoops, interim associate general secretary for Mission Resource Development, below.

Isaiah 53:5 reminds us, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

Growing up in an American Baptist Church in Kansas, the concept of Lent was unfamiliar to me. Our church focused on celebrating Good Friday, Palm Sunday, and, of course, Easter with joyful traditions like Easter egg hunts and large family meals. Lent, however, was never part of our spiritual rhythm.

As a pastor, I introduced a Maundy Thursday communion service, which became deeply meaningful. Still, my personal experience with Lent remained limited. It’s intriguing how life continually introduces new experiences and challenges, shaping us in unexpected ways.

Now, reflecting on Lent, I see it as an opportunity to delve deeper into the essence of following Jesus. While I’m inclined to follow when the path is clear and the outcome certain, Lent calls me to embrace the uncertainties and challenges of Jesus’s journey to the cross.

During this season, I seek forgiveness for my failings, repent of my sins, and renew my commitment to a life grounded in faith and love. I want to fully grasp the price of His grace and comprehend the extent of His obedience and inclusivity as He made His way to Golgotha.

Following a crucified King means my life won’t always be smooth sailing. In Mark 8:31-38, Jesus calls me to take up my cross, a journey that leads to losing my life to save it.

This Lent, may I embrace the unfamiliar, step into the unknown, and follow Jesus with renewed dedication and faith.

Prayer by Thomas Merton, Thoughts is Solitude, 1958

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you.
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that, if I do this,
You will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore, I will trust you always
though I may seem to be lost
and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. Amen.