That tough life has produced what is at times an apparently brutally realistic faith. It is said of her that one day she was leading worship in a church, and at the end was approached by a member of the congregation, who said 'I did not like Any of the hymns you chose today!' Quick as a flash Dawn replied. 'That's OK - we weren't worshiping you, we were worshiping God' Ouch!!
Lent, if we will let us teaches us this Most Vital Lesson - a Lesson which is Central to a Living faith - that We are Not the Centre, God is. We give things up to deny ourSelves and in that denial begin to realise just How central to our faith we are - that we do NOT like to deny ourselves, to lose our life to find it.
Christ at the end of forty days has laid his life down - in a sense the shadow of the Cross has already done its work. If there is anything there now, it is the Life of God his Father. And that is revealed in the confrontation with Satan - Every response focusses on God. 'Every word that proceeds from the mouth of God', 'Do Not put the Lord your God to the test', 'Worship the Lord your God - him only shall you serve' (remembering that to Serve is to Worship (you cannot Serve God and Mammon).
Lent is a time when we strip back - in effect laying our life down - to reveal what lies underneath - what lies hidden from even our own gaze. And this is to learn hard truths about ourselves for the heart is deceitful and hiding, like our first parents.
And our hearts greatest deceit is to allow us to create a faith for ourselves which is 'Me shaped' - a comfortable 'god', 'god' in our own image. Of course it may well be that for some reason or other the 'god' we create is harsh or cruel, but just as often this 'god' is one who comforts us. Either way it is an inner reflection of the 'god' we want, the 'god' who we create to protect us from God. The 'god' who is just a pitiful image of ourselves.
Either way we detect this false 'god' when life overwhelms us - when this protective 'god' we have crafted for ourselves is inadequate and crumbles. The shattering of this mould can be very disorientating - it is like being cast adrift on a vast ocean - for formerly we had taken our bearings in effect from ourselves - we were our own inner compass. It feels like we are losing our faith, that God is now distant. And many interpret it in that way to their great loss. But in truth all it reveals is how far we have strayed from him in our own hearts - how small we had made the love of God, that it was just the echo of our own closed heart. When the false 'god' shatters, then we find ourselves exposed to the Living God, whose Life is more overwhelming than any overwhelming of Life.
At such times we need wise counsellors - those who have already known what it is like to sail upon this vast ocean that is the Love of the Living God - who have not grown used to it, who do not find it safe, but know that it is Good - that here and here alone may we know the fulness of Life. Such guides can help us to learn to Trust that He is Near, even when to our dimmed sight, dull ears and storm tossed psyche, He seems now remote.
I guess one way to put it is this - that when we have much, i.e. a life we have crafted for ourselves, then our 'god' must be small to fit in. But when we lose it all, then we discover that God is not small and manageable - it is a terrible shock to the system, but it is the equivalent of a defibrillator going to work on a heart that to that point has not been brought to life.
Until we learn that our 'god' is not God - we have not yet learnt that our life is not LIFE.
It is at this point that the journey of Faith begins in earnest