Monday, March 3, 2014

Approaching Lent Realistically

I am about Lent like some folks are about Christmas. I begin thinking about it weeks in advance, gathering and considering various ideas for what I may give up or take on as a discipline during the weeks leading up to Easter. The discipline of laying aside or taking on offers a constant reminder that Jesus laid aside his divinity and took on the cross and causes me to worship more honestly during Lent.

I approach Lent with expectancy, for I know that if I am faithful and have the right attitude about my Lenten discipline, I will have the opportunity to deepen my relationship with Christ, and possibly make a permanent behavior change that removes an obstacle to intimacy with God.

Last year was likely one of the most difficult seasons of Lent for me in recent years. I committed to several different practices, thinking I had “progressed” in my growth sufficiently to “succeed” with a larger commitment. Even though I was faithful outwardly, my attitude was horrible! I complained almost daily. I provided a new example for Paul’s list in 1 Corinthians 13:1-2: If I give up many things for Lent, but have not love, I am just a whiny complainer that no one wants to be around.

Looking back, I realize that I had an inflated view of myself. Last year’s Lent showed me how feeble and weak I really am. I began Lent with all the bluster of Peter when he said he would never desert Jesus and ended up feeling more like Peter when the cock crowed and he realized his failure to be faithful.

Psalm 103:14 says:
For he knows how weak we are;
                     he remembers we are only dust.

God knows I am weak. The question is: will I recognize and accept my weakness? For when I truly recognize my weakness, what Jesus did as a fully human being takes on greater significance. This year, I come to Lent a bit more humble than last year. I hope that I will remain faithful in my discipline, but more than that, I hope I will practice my discipline with humility and gratitude and love.

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