Once we had a vacuum cleaner that would only suck up a certain amount of dirt. For some reason the dirt was not going into the canister and was only going through the hose. We kept cleaning the dirt out of the hose and it kept getting clogged up. We knew there must be a blockage somewhere that was hard to get to but we didn't have the time or energy to take the whole vacuum apart to discover where the blockage was. Finally it got rather old; vacuuming a little, cleaning out the hose, vacuuming a little, cleaning out the hose. So, we finally got out the screw driver and took apart a whole section of the vacuum. It was then that we discovered that there was a toy stuck in a very narrow section at the beginning of the hose right by the canister and it was preventing dirt from getting through. The air flow was blocked.
Often in our own lives, we keep dealing with the same sins over and over again. We even confess these sins but get discouraged when we can not seem to overcome them. Even so, we recoil at the thought of actually being still and seriously seeking God in order to discover what is in our own heart that is blocking the flow of his Spirit and the root cause of our sin. However when we finally do decide to deal with the root cause of our sin, amazingly, we feel so much better and experience a greater level of freedom in our lives. We can also once again experience God's loving presence.
Lent presents itself with a great opportunity for self-examination. An opportunity to slow down, take a step back, be still and reflect on our lives in light of the cross. If we are truly honest with ourselves, we will realize that when God seems distant, it is often because we would rather conform him to our image and likeness instead of us being conformed to his image and likeness. Being conformed to God's image and likeness requires a little effort on our part. It requires us to fast and do penance from those things that we turn to instead of God. It requires us to be willing to take a deeper look at the dirt in our own hearts. We naturally want to flinch at the idea of fasting and doing penance. Our flesh cries out and we want to run in the other direction and drown out God's voice. If we persevere however and are willing to go deep into the desert of our lives, it is there that we will find Jesus and a greater level of freedom as we allow him to get to the root of our sins instead of us just dealing with the symptoms.