Hope to Carry On: February 22, 2024

Lenten Devotional Book 2024

Read: 1 Peter 3:18-22

“(Christ suffered) in order to bring you to God.” – 1 Peter 3:18

When I was a young lad, our family was visiting relatives in the Chicago area. One Wednesday night, our aunt, uncle, and cousins took my brother and me somewhere in Chicago. It was a scary, dilapidated part of town; an area no one in their right mind would drive through, let alone stop and park – at least not if you loved your life and/or family. Well, they found a place to park and we entered what could only be most charitably described as a falling-down fleabag dining room auditorium space. Hanging above a stand that seemed to function as a pulpit was a dusty old banner with JESUS (in red) on the left, a plain dark cross in the center, and SAVES (in red) on the right. Winos and derelicts of every sort and condition shuffled into the room. Some were there to enjoy the fan-blown air on a hot summer’s eve, others to get off the streets and into relatively safe space, and the rest for reasons known only to them.

At the appointed time, the preacher got up to preach, shared the “Plan of Salvation” with the people gathered, and in the fullness of time, invited folks to come forward for the laying on of hands and salvation. I didn’t step forward, for I was a young teen and did NOT want anyone in the family to think I hadn’t been saved, although I really didn’t know what that meant. But standing there in the quiet darkness of my own heart, I knew I wanted to be a child of God, and although I was too timid to move, I offered the sinners’ prayer.

Christ suffered to bring me to God. That gave me hope to carry on, deepening my faith, and, eventually, sharing that faith with others.

Dear God, I give you my pain, my ignorance, my ego, and all the things that keep us apart – you, me, and those who cross my path. Help me to make good choices, to be kind, and to live into the hope I have in you. Amen.
-Fr. Keith Axberg