Lent Day 17: Starting Over
1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; 2 this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”
While in college I was fortunate enough to get a job working at a major corporation. I did not know I would be there for 25 years. That was a tremendous blessing. But after 25 years the company was bought out and the companies merged. Leaving many of the company's employees, myself included looking for work. Fortunately for me, by God’s grace I was able to get another job. However, this meant that I was going to have to start over.
Maybe you don’t know what it’s like to work a job for so many years and have to learn new skills, new people, new rules, new driving patterns, and a new work schedule. To go from several weeks of vacation back to a couple. From being first in line for vacation to last on the list. While these were minor inconveniences, it was also exciting and new. Trust me, I was so grateful to have a job, but you understand, it was starting over.
I am sure you have been there as well. Whether it is a job, marriage, career, family, children, school relocation or starting back to in person school after being out for so long. We are all starting over again somewhere, even if it is retirement.
This was Nicodemus. In our text today he is confronted with the prospect of starting over. He was a man of prominence. He had risen to the top of the spiritual ladder. He was a spiritual executive. He had his own office, company car, American Express card with an account. And yet for some odd reason, it was not enough. Something was missing in his life. But because he was so important, he could not meet the teacher from Nazareth by day. He had a reputation to uphold, so he came by night. And when he meets Jesus, Jesus tells him that if you want life, real life, you have to start over. You have to be born again. All the degrees, plaques, awards, promotions, and bonuses won’t get you where you want to go if “eternal life” is what you seek.
Formerly the hot shot executive, corporate lawyer, spiritual guide, engineer, essential worker. Now, “you’ve got to become as vulnerable and innocent and dependent as a little child.” Talk about starting over! If you want to go up, you have to go down.
Like Nicodemus we have to be willing to let go of all the things we depend on to make us self-sufficient. We have to start over as vulnerable, innocent and dependent people. Otherwise, we will remain cutoff from the life that God offers us in Jesus Christ. The life found in verse sixteen of their conversation. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
What Jesus offered was, “an invitation to be reborn—innocent, vulnerable, dependent—open to the wind, fixed on the one with the cross.”
During this season of Lenten reflection let’s be open to the gnawing in our hearts that longs for more than what this temporary world can offer. It is an invitation to open our arms for the ride of our lives.
“In this season of Lent, O God, unsettle us. Increase in us that sense of gnawing that arises from the incongruity between our lives and the life to which you call us and transform us in newness. Amen.”