Sunday at church I was blessed with the most wonderful talk on prayer, actually an answer to prayer in and of itself, as in, were those words tailored just for me or what? Synchronicity, that feeling within that just speaks to the presence of the Holy Spirit. I needed those words, that validation, that comfort, and did not even realize it until I heard them. Thank you, Lord.
Also at church we spoke of Lent, Lent being the time many Christians mark the 40 days proceeding Easter Sunday, the 40 days Jesus Christ spent in the desert being tempted by Satan as He prepared for His ministry. It is often a time of fasting, or of giving something up, so that each time you are tempted, you are reminded of your purpose, your prayer, the very meaning of Lent itself. It is a somewhat sorrowful season, a season of loss and grief that culminates with the resurrection, with the celebration of what we have come to call Easter.
Some people simply give up sweets or chocolate or coffee. All in good humor here, but forgeddaboutit. My coffee idolatry is downright legendary.
I jest here, only because God once used coffee to teach me something delightful and amazing about some rather harsh words to be found in Matthew 10:37-39, “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”
I struggled with this, what kind of a God would ask us to give up our loved ones? How mean to insist that we must chose between Him and them! And God simply said, you cannot even give up coffee. One who has built up so much sentimentality around a simple cup of coffee, would think to challenge the wisdom of these words?
It was powerful and convicting and suddenly I understood. Our sentimentalities, our creature comforts, the things we are familiar with, can be a great blessing…. or a curse that keeps us trapped in bondage. We cling to the things that are familiar, that are comforting, and while there is nothing wrong with that, what happens when we lose them, were does our faith than go? And what happens when the things we cling to so tightly are not good for us? We live in a world full of impermanence and constant change. God must always come first, because He is the anchor for our souls, He is the rock that will be there with us through life…..and death. A jealous God, not jealous for His sake, but for ours.
Lent is a lovely season, one of sorrow and wisdom, of expectation and change, of loss and grief, but also it calls us towards a keen awareness of the paradox to be found in the words, Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”
My prayer for this Lenten season is that some of us will think to give up those attachments and sentimentalities that bring us such emotional harm, self doubt, condemnation, fear, pride, shame, feelings of unworthiness, despair, doubt, disbelief, self loathing, cynicism, criticism, judgment, gossip…..oh the list is just endless, but the freedom to be found in setting down those bags of rocks is simply priceless.
That is also why He went to the cross, so that we might walk in victory.