I am going to get myself in trouble. I see the calendar says it is March and religious material tells me it is Lent. Putting those two things together, I expect for spring to be just around the corner with flowers poking through the ground and the temperatures rising. Every year I expect this and every year I am disappointed. It seems the cold in northern Indiana hangs on for a long time.
A reality check is in order. And not just in regard to the arrival of spring and warm weather. I am challenged to do a reality check in other areas as well.
Having been nurtured in a Christian environment that did not celebrate Lent – the forty days leading up to Easter – I did not develop the habit of celebrating Fat Tuesday, giving up meat on Fridays or fasting from something for forty days. The last number of years, I focused more intentionally on preparing my heart for Easter when the Christian church celebrates Jesus’ atoning death and resurrection — the cornerstone of Christian faith.
This year I chose a 40 day reading plan from the You Version Bible app. The readings and devotionals bless me and challenge me to think. (During my first year of teaching at a private Christian school, one of my students complained that I made him think! Horrors! He had to think in school!)
Anyway, I just finished reading a book entitled The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell. It is the story of a boy born with ocular albinism – his eyes were red. His mother was devoutly religious and saw all of life through that lens, including her son born with red eyes. She told him he was destined for an extraordinary life. Sam did not experience life quite like that and struggled with how this thing that made him different could be God’s will or the foundation of an extraordinary life. What really controlled his life?
In my readings for Lent, the author contrasted Mary’s extravagent worship of Jesus with Judas’ betrayal. Judas was afraid that Jesus wasn’t going to come through on his promise of a new kingdom. How could he be ushering in a new kingdom when he talked about dying on a cross? Fearing reprisal from religious leaders, Judas did what made sense to him. He lost faith that God was in control.
As I read, I found myself exposed. Judas thought the religious leaders controlled his future. Sam Hell did not see how his experiences were “God’s will.” I sometimes believe that people or circumstances control my future. I am tempted to fall into the pattern of making decisions based in fear rather than faith in my kind, loving and sovereign Father.
27And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. 28And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. 29For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son. . .Romans 8:27-29
Today I am reorienting myself to my true North, to place my faith in a loving, kind, compassionate, interested and involved Father in Heaven who controls my destiny, my future. It isn’t people. It isn’t circumstances. I rest in Him!