How’s lent going? Take a moment and grade yourself. Now you might say, why so serious? It is just lent, and nobody can do it perfectly; kind of like a March Madness bracket. To understand why we should be so interested in our lenten performance, we have to remember the need for discipline. Our world is full of ‘free spirits”, people who march to their own drummer. We have grown to appreciate the outlier, and despise the norm. After all, what is the problem with rooting for the underdog?
Well nothing, but we have to watch which little guy we are pulling for. David was definitely an underdog as opposed to Goliath, and we all love the story of the little guy that could barley walk in his armor taking down the oppressive bully. But we also have another underdog, the devil, taking up a protest against God. This angel definitely marched to his own drummer, but I would encourage you not to follow this fallen angel. Not all underdogs should be cheered for; we should not march to every drummer. (even when at times that drummer is us!)
God made us, and we are His. God gave us rules in which to live our lives, and all too often we ignore these rules. We assume all too readily that God will overlook our transgressions and like the fact that we have blazed our own path. Miranda Lambert sings a great song, “A Heart Like Mine”, in which she opines :
“Cause I heard Jesus, He drank wine
I bet we’d get along just fine
He could calm a storm and heal the blind
And I bet He’d understand a heart like mine
I would be cautious with making such a statement. God told His friend Abram:
Gen 17: 1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless1
Abram was God’s friend, surely he would have gotten a pass if anyone would, but he did not. He was told to be perfect! Abram did not lay back and simply say “I bet He’d understand a heart like mine”, he went about trying to follow God and His will. Abram learned God’s heart, he did not expect God to learn his. Generations later, God would give the law, and his people had real goals set for behavior, etched in stone! Had God wanted there to be wiggle room, he would have written it in pencil!
All this is to say that God gave us His law and He expects us to live by it. (shocking headline I know) This is not easy. it takes discipline. How do we get discipline? We do so in small steps. Giving up desert, giving up soda, giving up time for self and dedicating it to God; there are many many ways we can teach ourselves new habits, or restricting ourselves from a joy in order to strengthen our discipline. This not only brings us closer to God through our obedience, it also helps us in crisis. As crisis hits, we tend to lose discipline and doubt all that we have been taught. Some people turn to despair, others just throw out faith all together. It is the disciplined mind that will be able to focus on God, and thereby find peace in the strongest of storms.
A strong discipline results in a strong faith. A strong faith results in a lasting connection with God. As we live by His rules we can rejoice in any circumstance, knowing that in the end we will live with God for eternity.
Let us finish strong. Rededicate yourself to your lenten discipline, so that your heart may be like Gods.
1Catholic Biblical Association (Great Britain). (1994). The Holy Bible: Revised Standard Version, Catholic edition (Ge 17:1). New York: National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA.