For the past several years I’ve enjoyed attending nearby churches for events, dinners and studies in addition to my inter-denominational home church. To usher in the Lenten season, I went to my first Ash Wednesday service. In the past, my observance of lent has been informal and solo. I’ve done devotions and such, but this year It is with a solemn heart of gratitude that I join the community of faith in observance of lent.
Last Tuesday a group of dearly loved friends discussed lent. We intend to read a couple of short daily devotions as we turn our focus to the cost of our sin and prepare ourselves for Good Friday and the Resurrection. We are from different church backgrounds and one, who was raised Catholic, suggested we not give up something that tends to only be a sacrifice for us – or ultimately benefit us, but do something that also helps others. Now I’m not knocking anyone who chooses to sacrifice sweets…that might even benefit others since we’d be healthier and perhaps not have added problems that cause debilitating illness – along with dental and medical bills! Anyway, she caught my attention with her ‘outward focused’ encouragement.
Trading TV time for other family and outreach activities, cleaning out ‘stuff’ for charities, making and writing daily cards, memorizing scripture, or giving up chocolate or Facebook impacts our hearts only if we allow God to change us in the process. The idea of lent appeals to me and hopefully my small sacrifices will deepen my awareness of the ultimate sacrifice Jesus made for us.
‘….perhaps our lives have fallen out of alignment with God. It is from this place that we invite the Holy Spirit to speak of things both good and bad that we’ve allowed to interfere. It’s those things we lay down for Lent. Some of these things are actually good things that belong in our lives that we’ve allowed to become more important to us than Jesus. Things we go to for comfort and life and in doing so deny Him. During Lent we lay those things down and give God permission to re-integrate them into our lives where they belong’. –Brian Hardin, Daily Audio Bible
Today I pray that you and I will adjust and become more aware of God’s sacrifice and his gifts of love, compassion and mercy.