Lenten Devotion, Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Published April 12, 2022 by Finley Walton

Hold on to Love....

With the season of Lent upon us, and our waiting for Jesus' resurrection begun, we must step back and take the time to ponder why we celebrate Easter. The obvious answer is Jesus, though when considering his death on the cross, how can we fully understand the sacrifice he made for us and why it means so much?

I first questioned this when I was ten years old, less than a year into my new life in Houston, and already tired of the muggy air and constant rain. My favorite pastime for the entirety of my life has been reading, specifically fantasy series. I always wondered what appealed to me so much about these books.

Was it the carefully crafted characters whose ideals reflected my own and taught me how to believe in my opinions? Or was it the contrasting views of justice and sinister motivation that taught me what I should place my trust in? Or maybe it was the developed interactions between characters that taught me how to be trustworthy and kind in all the things I do. Books taught me that there are very few things that are completely and concretely right and wrong, but those things that are totally right are so much harder to accomplish than the wrong. Books taught me that love is caring for someone more than you care for yourself and still being able to appreciate who and whose you are. I like to think that books taught a part of me how to live.

And so, when I was ten years old, my mind was firmly wrapped in the lessons whispered to me from ink lines on endless pages. Then, during this time, I heard my dad say something that gave me pause. I don't remember if this was an overheard conversation or a half-forgotten comment flung during some lazy car ride, but I do remember it made my head spin.

He said, "Most great stories mirror the story of Jesus' own sacrifice and resurrection." This spare sentence, probably not meant to be profound or interesting, stuck itself firmly in the back of my brain. I began wondering, is this true? Do all the stories I love so much trace back to Jesus' The answer, as you would probably expect, is yes.

The climax of the book is the most invigorating part. It's when hope seems a foreign light, completely unreachable, and is still somehow snatched by our hero and sparked into a wild flame in a matter of moments. There is a running theme in all the best climaxes, a theme you might have expected.

Every time the protagonist seems about to lose everything they hold dear, they don't hold onto pride or false confidence. They hold onto love. They surge out into the middle of the fight, ready and willing to defend the people they care for, because love is caring for other people more than yourself. They are willing to sacrifice their ideals, their pride, their dignity, or sometimes even their life. And in that act of love, they are laid bare. They become a blazing sun of pure rightness, because sacrifice is one of the few things that is completely and concretely right. That is why it is so hard to do.

In that moment when they are naked before those they are battling and those they are defending, they die. Whether that means they are warped by their magnificent love into a new person or that they truly were slain, it doesn't matter. Because when they die, they are resurrected. They are resurrected by the new them that walks the earth and by the stories told of their life and death. They are resurrected and born anew in the ashes of the blood they shed. They are born again in their people, in their nation, in their love. That is why books appeal to me so much. That is what makes a good story. And that is what makes Lent so worth waiting through. Because Jesus' sacrifice was completely and concretely right. And it taught me how to love.

Finley Walton is 13 years old, and a part of The 527 Tribe at South Main. Finley enjoys singing in choir, writing, reading fantasy novels, and all things musical theater.