Romans 3:23-24 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

My daughter is going through a “Ring Around the Rosie” phase. The other day she sang it in the car over and over…and over, and finally asked me, “What does that song mean?” And I actually don’t know. I don’t even know what “posies” are or if I want them in my pocket. I’ve been singing that song since I could barely stand, dancing around the living room with my mom. I took it up again when I turned 12 and started babysitting. Then there was a preschool teacher stint. And now I occasionally “fall down” as a mommy. But I really don’t know what any of it means.
Many people go through Lent like that every year. They may know it as time to stock their freezers with sale-priced seafood. Some know enough to find out which Wednesday they need to go have ashes put on their heads. If they are honest with themselves, most would admit that they have sinned and Lent is about feeling bad about that. But so, so few know of the treasure found at the foot of the cross. Very few know that Lent is a time when we “all fall down.”
The ashes from Ash Wednesday symbolize our sorrow over all the times we’ve fallen down: all the words of frustration to the people we love the most, all the times we secretly think we should have more blessings than what we’ve been given, all the times we’ve tucked a little grudge into the back of our mouths in case we want to chew on it for a while later. Lent is a time when we realize that yes, we all fall down!
But Lent is also a time when we fall on our knees before the cross of Jesus and see all our sins paid for. It is a time when faith tells us what logic can’t accept – that Holy God suffered the punishment that was ours and that we are free from all guilt. It is a time when we remember that our only hope of peace is found on the ground of Calvary. It is when we stop relying on our own strength and fall on the One who carries us safely to heaven. It is a time to fall in praise before the throne of the Lamb. Yes, Lent is a time when we all fall down!
Lent is a time for mission work, a time to seek out those people who don’t know the Lenten Savior. So as you stand in the line of Pick ‘n Save with your sale-priced tilapia, take a minute to explain to your children what Lent means, because they are your first mission field, and because God may put someone behind you in line who desperately needs to learn how to “fall down”. [Then remember, too, all the people you’ll never see or speak to, whom our missionaries are seeking out to share the message of Lent. Pray for them, bring the Lord your offerings to support their work, and maybe even find an e-mail address to send one of them a word of encouragement.]
This Lent, may God bless your falling down and may he stand you up to talk about it!