Confessing Our Exile
And I saw no temple in the city,
for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.
And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it,
for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.
By its light will the nations walk,
and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it,
and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there.
They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations.
But nothing unclean will ever enter it,
nor anyone who does what is detestable or false,
but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
There is a dangerous forgetfulness on our part that this world is not our true and final home. This has been greatly exacerbated by the fact that our education systems, drawing their theories from materialist philosophy, have claimed heaven to be off-limits and have taught us to look within ourselves and to this earth for the ultimate good…
I think this explains why we have such difficulty in understanding and celebrating Lent in beneficial ways. We are no longer sure deep down that we are exiles, that this is not the promised home. Therefore, we’ve accommodated ourselves to Babylon and then are overwhelmed at the sickness, fear, hatred, and violence we see here. It is a strange fact that we Christians continue to be unduly shocked and even overcome by the sight and the extent of evil we discover in the world – as if we didn’t know it to be a fallen one. 
Our Lenten disciplines impel us to kneel in sobriety, confessing hard and hopeful truths so that we might clear some solid ground on which to stand. This is reality: I am an exile. I was born into a created-good but sin-stained, demon-haunted world. I was carried off by my own rebellion and only the blood of the Son of God was able to purchase me back from my slavery to sin and death. I now belong to, and live in, Him. Every selfish and cruel deed committed, every horror at which we cry, “Why?!?” is a defiance of His holiness, and He is coming soon to judge it all. He is preparing a place for me and for all who will receive Him, and we will live with Him forever, finally then knowing what it is to be at home.
Glorious God, what a day that will be! Thank you for the victory of Your holiness on the Cross. I ask you now for Lenten grace. Sharpen my vision of heaven and strengthen my longing to reach my true home. Forgive me for yielding to the seduction of this world. Cleanse me of every accommodation I’ve made to meaningless and despair. Grant me power to rid my life of any action or posture that denies the hope of heaven. Holy God, You are worthy to receive all honor and glory and praise, now and always. Give me grace that I may join the worshippers who will rejoice forever before Your throne.
 Leanne Payne, Restoring the Christian Soul Through Healing Prayer (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 1991), 226.
Painting: Theodorescu-Sion, 1915, Ovid in Exile [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Meditation prepared by Sarah Colyn, drawing on the writings and ministry of Leanne Payne