“I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love.
With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.”
As we come fully into our journey this Lenten season, I have one piece of advice.
Hopefully, through prayerful consideration, you have made some decisions as to how you will drawn near to Christ over the next six weeks. Some of us will give something of value up: fasting, resources, time, etc. Some of us will take on a new activity: Bible study, prayer time, or serving.
Whatever the Spirit has led us to, it will be good. However, I want to remind us all why we are making such efforts (outside our norms) for this time. These activities are, each one, a means of grace; a way for our Lord in heaven to reach out to us. They are channels that He will use to speak with us, to transform us, and change our hearts.
Notice I said, “He will use…” This is an important point. Don’t miss it. When we make choices to change our behavior, many times those changes become an eventual burden, a means for disappointment in ourselves and an eventual feeling of failure. Much like the proverbial New Years resolution, most of the time within a few weeks we give up and feel a sense of “why even try, I can’t do this…”
However, spiritual practices are the exact opposite of New Years resolutions. Spiritual practices are led and fueled by the Holy Spirit; not our own resolve. They are God’s way of ministering to us. They are not some test of will He demands of us to test our faithfulness. They are an expression of His perfect faithfulness toward us.
So, my friends, when the inevitable happens: you miss your prayer time, you don’t have time to read your Bible, you eat the cake… Don’t beat yourself up, and don’t give up. Accept the grace that is being offered to you by our loving Father, and try again. He will stay with you. And He won’t judge you for slip ups. He applauds you for your efforts, and runs to meet you wherever you are. You are beloved, not condemned.
Consider this, Lent is a great starting point for a lifetime of walking closely with our Savior. It isn’t a one and done proposition. Let this time be one of permanent transformation. And don’t worry, God has promised to do the heavy lifting for you. Just relax, soak in the blessings, and do the best you can. Our God is faithful to pick up the pieces when we fall. Remember this is a time of powerfully over-flowing grace; not one of condemnation. Embrace your weakness and accept all the love that God wants to give you.
With much grace my friends.
You do love me with an everlasting love. How can I thank you for this? I am overwhelmed by your faithfulness toward me. Help me, Lord, to follow You more faithfully this Lenten season. Show me what I should do, and empower me to do it. Thank you for not holding my failed attempts against me. And help me to remember, that my strength always comes directly from You.
In Your almighty name I pray,
So, God is reaching out to me today with this….I gave up fried food for lent (and some other things). At lunch without even thinking I order fried okra. I ate two bites and then remembered. I told myself that it was important from that moment on, not to eat anymore. I did not. My strength, even in small things, comes from him. Your message/his message….Perfect timing…his timing…