When I volunteer at the hospice office, it’s when the entire staff is attending a meeting at their headquarters in another town, so I’m all alone. Ordinarily it’s not busy so I’m good to read or write or meditate if I want. I like that. I treasure my alone time. You would think being retired and living alone would be enough alone time for me, but at home I’m surrounded by distractions, things that need to be done. You know what I mean. How often do we have a large block of uninterrupted time. It made me think of my Savior who had little or no alone time. He and his disciples often used a boat to get away from the crowds. Even to be alone with his Father and pray he would have to hike up into the Judaean hills. Mobbed by people constantly, always accompanied by his disciples, he must have longed for some alone time, yet he sacrificed his alone time for others.
At church this week, before the children left for their Sunday school class, they were asked if they knew what leap year was. No, they didn’t. It was explained that this year has an extra day in it. So, what would you like to do with the extra day? You could see the wheels turning. Then one little girl spoke up with a big smile, “I’d go swimming!” You could tell she was looking forward to warmer weather. But it made me think, what do I plan to do with my extra day. And, how about you? What do you plan to do on Leap Day? I know, as it’s just shoved into our calendars like any other day, we don’t think of it as an extra day. But, what if we did? What if we planned something really special for this leap year Saturday? It could involve something for yourself, maybe a little pampering if you need some R&R, or something with or for someone else. I’m game! How about you?
If you read “A Little Sacrifice” from a couple of weeks ago, you know I was trying to decide what to give up for Lent this year. Although observing Lent is not my normal practice, a few years ago I decided it was a good way to keep my mind on Christ’s sacrifice as we approach Resurrection Sunday. Someone suggested getting rid of an item from my closet each day, and I was bemoaning that idea because I had just cleared out a lot of clothes. Then it came to me to donate a book to our library’s book sale every day. I quickly tried to put that thought out of my mind as getting rid of my books is much harder than getting rid of clothes. Yes, my bookcases are crammed with books—text books, commentaries, concordances, Bibles and dictionaries in several languages, inspirational books, art books, travel books, you name it. I have lost count of my books! Many I will not read again, but they are so meaningful to me. I’ve heard getting rid of an old textbook doesn’t lower your IQ level. I’m not so sure! But, wait—think—compared to Christ’s sacrifice, what’s losing a few old books!
My friend Donna told me she wished we lived closer so we could have COD lunches. She said she regularly has those with some of her friends. I had no idea what she meant so she explained. A COD lunch is a time to have a conversation of depth with a friend you can talk to about all most anything, even religion and politics. Wow, I thought, rare friends indeed are those you can broach with those two topics! Religion and politics we usually avoid in polite conversation, especially at the same time. It’s sad, but even at church it’s not safe to express political views because politics has divided us so. Whichever way you lean, someone is going to be offended, and I don’t want to lose friends. Then I ask myself, if my take on politics causes me to lose a Christian friend, then something is not right with our politics! God is a God of love, inclusion and reconciliation, not division.
Do you get what I call “love touches” from God? I’m sure you do. We all do. We may not call them that, but that’s what they really are. I’m not one to believe in coincidences when I know God has intervened. I’ve asked God to be involved in my life, totally involved, so that’s what I expect from him. It’s faith in a God who I know is faithful to us, even when we don’t think to ask or even deserve it. What made me think of this is because I volunteer to cover the hospice office on their regularly scheduled all-staff meeting days. This month Paula called me and said she thought the meeting date was scheduled wrong so she would check and call me back. No, the date was right and an extra meeting was also set for a later date. That’s good for me, I said, because as it turns out I can’t come in on the regularly scheduled date, but I can on the other two dates. Paula exclaimed, “God worked this out for me!” A little matter, you might say, but Paula didn’t think so, and neither do I.
Nothing about being a Christian is intuitive. What I think and do naturally is not of God. Yes, I’ve done some good over the years, but if not by the Spirit of God, even those actions are tainted with pride and self-righteousness. Oh no, Sheila’s throwing a pity party and she’s asking us to join her! Not at all. This is not surprising news. I’m perfectly happy admitting any real good comes through the Holy Spirit. Living in the Bible Belt, for years I was immersed in the belief that going to church regularly, paying my tithes, volunteering, helping my neighbor, all would gain another star in my crown. Now, I realize all these are wonderful traits, but if not the works of the Spirit, then I am no more than a modern-day Pharisee. Good works show God at work, not me. Thank you, Lord!
The Lenten season is from February 26 to April 8 this year—40 days to prepare our hearts and minds to commemorate the death and resurrection of our Lord. For several years now, I’ve made a little sacrifice daily during that time to remind me of the gigantic sacrifice made by Jesus so this human and all humanity could be reinstated back into relationship with God. I’m having a hard time figuring out what to give up this year. Even though it’s just a little reminder, I want my sacrifice to be something that could be truly defined as a sacrifice. A suggestion was to donate an item out of my closets every day to a nonprofit. This will be a problem for me as I’ve just done, as the British say, a clear-out, of my closets. I have to admit in my former effort I didn’t get rid of some clothes that I should have and those that hold memories for me. I don’t wear them, but I can’t seem to let go of them. Will I do it? I’ll let you know.