Fifth Sunday of Lent: A Willing Place

March 17, 2024 | Brittany Holberg | Today’s Readings

The Lenten Reflection for this Sunday was authored by Brittany Holberg, a woman living on Texas’ death row. It is part of a larger collection of her writing. Her story of preparing the ground for a winter garden is well suited for the Gospel reading this week where we hear:

“Amen, amen, I say to you, 
unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, 
it remains just a grain of wheat; 
but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” (John 12:24)

Sometimes there’s a part of us that dies before new life can take root and blossom — something Brittany has experienced in the hardened ground and in her own soul.

This Lent, what aspects of your life might need to make way for new life to begin?

A Willing Place ~

For the past few weeks we have been hard at work, preparing a large area for a winter garden and my job has been the soil. Tilling and turning over the earth until it is softened enough for the delicate roots of each plant to grow down deep. When the area was first chosen for this particular garden I cringed.

I knew this was going to be a difficult task. I had tried before to dig in the same area only to find it seemingly impossible. Between the deeply rooted crab grass and the rock hard dirt I had come away with bloody fingers and a deep frustration. Not this time. I decided that this time no matter how hard it was I was not giving up.

Within us our hearts are the central most vital part of who we are. They are where God longs to create his Temple and dwell within us.

As I looked at this hardened piece of earth I heard the Lord speaking to me of the relentless way he himself worked to soften the places within my own heart. The blood he shed for me so that the hardened places of my own sin and past hurts could be softened into a willing place for him to dwell. Each of those places seemed impossible to penetrate and yet he loves us so much he refuses to leave us the way we are.

All he needs is one spot to begin. One willing place to begin this process. So I too looked. I searched for the space before me until I found a place I could begin.

From the first moment I felt the hardened earth beginning to give way I became completely and totally invested. During this process I hit places where the dirt seemed as hard as rock but I refused to give up. I would pick up the hardened clumps and work them until my fingers were bleeding. Slowly the dirt began to give way and soften until I was able to sift it through my fingers like sand.

Although there was nothing easy about this process what I felt as each clump broke apart was pure joy and I realized what God was showing me in such an intimate way. He was revealing to me the process each of our hearts must go through in order for the love he so desperately wants to fill us with to take root and begin to grow deep within us.

He longs to break open the hard places within us with his mercy and sift us with his grace so that his love will take root and grow abundantly within our hearts. All he needs is a willing place to start. 

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