Facing torture and death by Roman crucifixion, Christ ended his prayerful supplication by relinquishing his will to his Father’s will. He did this, fully aware of what it meant for him personally. One of my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis, mentioned three classes of people. (I’m paraphrasing.) The first aren’t concerned about God’s will at all and live only for their own pleasure, the second are Christians who are concerned about doing God’s will but wonder how much it’s going to cost them, and the third have the mind of Christ and have given up self all together. He said most of us fit in the second category. Ouch! When I am praying I have to admit I’m really hoping God sees situations the same way I do. But, over the years I’ve learned his will includes what’s best for everyone, not just me. Not everything that happens to us is God’s will, of course. Many times I’ve gotten myself into situations he has had to rescue me from. But, you know what, he always does!
I’m fairly new at this. What’s this Lenten season all about? Is it a time for introspection or celebration? I’ve read comments about various fasts, food and otherwise, and suggested items to give up during Lent. I’m giving up a book a day to remind me of Christ’s sacrifice so the whole world could be in relationship with God. That’s certainly worth celebrating. But, last Sunday our pastor spoke about taking inventory to see if we have any personal wounds that need Christ’s healing. He said unhealed, deep-seated hurts and wounds can affect how we react to others and how we see ourselves as well. Though he didn’t mention Lent (not our tradition), inviting Christ in to take that inventory at this time might be a good idea. (This sounds painful!) But then I’ve also read these days preceding Resurrection Sunday should be a joyful time. After all, it’s our salvation we’re talking about, our freedom from sin, guilt and shame. I’ve come to the conclusion remembering Jesus’ sacrifice should bring us to our knees to rid ourselves of whatever is taking away the joy and peace he means for us to have.
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.