One of the songs I love that we hear often during Lent is Hosea, in which we sing words of God’s invitation to us to “Come back to me, with all your heart.”
The invitation to come back with all our heart is not always easy for us to fully accept. The next line of the song says, “don’t let fear keep us apart,” but I wonder whether it is always fear. To be sure, it requires an absence of fear, or at least a willingness to go forward in spite of fear, to completey drop the defenses between us and God. But it seems to me more is at play, something more akin to St. Augustine’s, “Give me chastity and continence, but not yet.” I want to come, Lord, but not really completely, not really with all my heart. Maybe only just a little bit or maybe a lot, but just not all the way. There are some things here I’d really rather not put aside for your sake.
I think part of the invitation of Lent, then, is to focus on what is it that makes it difficult for us to fully embrace God’s love, to fully respond to the invitation to come back with all of our heart. Where is our hesitation? What are we worried about giving up?
God is patient. He has waited a long time for us. And he’ll keep waiting for us to figure it out, and will be ready to welcome us with open arms when we do.
We sing God’s words in Hosea:
Long have I waited for
Your coming home to me
And living deeply our new life