In my household a common question as Lent began was “what are you doing for Lent.” Over the years my Lenten commitments were most likely not much different from yours. My lent involved some sacrifice, some decision to do more along the lines of prayer, reading of scripture or some regular devotion or mediation. This year as I look back I discovered that nothing of what I did during Lent lasted much beyond Lent. I never took the time to analyze why or concerned myself with why those things were not lasting in my life.
I am at a different place this year and my own spiritual journey has taught me some valuable lessons I would like to share with you. There is a very good reason why Lenten sacrifices never last much time beyond the five weeks of Lent. I was in control and I was going to change because I desired to change.
I have been approaching my desire to grow spiritually as a “do it yourself project.” Our ability to rid ourselves of all our selfish tendencies will never be done by sheer will power on our part. We can only find ourselves changed as Paul of Tarsus was changed when we realize only God can totally change our heart from hearts intent on our understanding of faith to hearts committed to doing is will. This can and will happen to us when we surrender to the transforming power of the Holy Spirit as we learn to yearn to yield to God’s plan for our lives. Over the past years I have learned that our holiness is a work of God renewing our minds, our hearts and our understanding of the forgiveness of sin by the death of Jesus Christ and the ability of the Holy Spirit to change our hearts.
So this Lent I am allowing God to direct me and up to this Friday I had not hear a thing from God about how my Lent would be different from all the Lents of my life. Last Friday God laid out for me a direction for my lent. I now understand that I have been playing around the edges of spiritual growth. It is like playing golf but never playing the 18th hole. I had gone so far and I was comfortable there and never felt that I needed to do anymore than that.
I now understand more is required of all of us. We have found a comfortable spirituality and we do not need to go further but God wants us to go further. He constantly challenges us to do the impossible. Just as he challenged Peter to get out of the boat and walk to toward Jesus on the water. God does not want us to sit in the comfortable pews afraid to step into the unknown journey into his embrace. He is calling us to give him everything.
We hear his call but we hold back.
We love but not completely.
We forgive but not completely.
We serve but not completely.
We accept and acknowledge Christ but not completely.
We live a Christian lifestyle but not completely.
We commit to God but not completely.
We hold back on doing the very things God requires us to do in order to be holy as he is holy.
You must see how selfish we are. We want to believe all is well with our relationship with God but in the end we will satisfy self first and serve God second. It is all about us and that is why we fall back into our comfortable life believing we have done all that is necessary to satisfy God.
Well that is a lie and it is keeping us from being all God created us to be.
This lent for me is going to be different. I am surrendering to God’s will and he has already given me a challenge to do something different – surrender to his will and go before others in a public setting and share the good news of surrendering to God’s will. Pray for me as it unfolds every Sunday during this Lent.