We are now at the start of our Lent journey. Recently, we experienced Ash Wednesday and we are starting the journey toward Easter.
I always struggle with what that road looks like for me. Do I fast? Do I give something up? I had a friend, that instead of giving something up, she decided to give something back. What do I give back, what do I give up?
I also know that once I head down that road, there will be roadblocks and detours. Life will get busy and I might have to take a detour or the busyness of life may block the road I am taking. If I am diligent, I can make the journey to Easter with a deeper understanding of what God wants for my life. If I continue down the road, I will end up with a deeper relationship with God. But, I have to be diligent.
One of the things I do know is this: just giving something up, giving back, or fasting is not the avenue to Easter. Doing those things will not get me any closer to having a deeper relationship with Christ. What will allow me to have a deeper understanding of Christ, is what I do while fasting, or giving something up or giving back. I have to take an active role in participating on this road to Easter.
If I fast a meal and don’t read the Bible or pray during the time I am fasting, it becomes nothing more than a quick easy diet. If I decide to give up coffee or chocolate, or sweets or anything else and I don’t replace those things with bible study and pray, then I have lost the meaning of sacrifice. If I choose to give up Starbucks or eating out and I don’t take that money and use it to build God’s kingdom then all I am doing is saving money.
Lent is a time of reflection. God calls us to a time of reflection during Lent. We may not always understand why God calls us to do something, but we can be assured that God calls all of us into ministry. We are here on earth for a reason. When we reflect on why we are here, we can begin to get a better grasp of what we are called to do. Our Pastor recently shared that we are here to be kingdom builders. We all build the kingdom in different ways, but that is our calling when we accept Christ. During Lent, we walk the journey and reflect on what that looks like for us. We reflect on God’s calling for our lives.
For the last two years, I have given something up, but I have also replaced that something with Bible study and prayer time. The problem for me is, I live in the world. The world is not kind to me at times. I know I will be challenged to keep doing what I promised Him I would do. There will be roadblocks that will try and prevent me from taking the journey. I will lose sight of my destination.
I also know that Christ defeated Satan when he was tempted in the wilderness. Christ was in the wilderness for forty days. Matthew 4:1-11, Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After he fasted forty days and forty nights he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become bread. But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city, had him stand on the highest point of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you’ and ‘with their hands, they will lift you up so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “Once again it is written: ‘You are not to put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their grandeur. And he said to him, “I will give you all these things if you throw yourself to the ground and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go away, Satan! For it is written: ‘You are to worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’” Then the devil left him, and angels came and began ministering to his needs.” I love it that Lent is the same amount of days as Christ in the wilderness. I think it was an example given to us to say, “Jesus made it, you can too.” Jesus also used scripture to fight off Satan. We must know, read and understand the scripture so when we are tempted, just as Jesus was, we can use scriptures to help defeat our enemies. I am convinced, Jesus spent time talking with His Father during this time. It was a real necessity for him. It will be for me also. If I am going to succeed as Jesus did, I am going to have to talk to God and ask for strength to help me stay strong on this journey.
Jesus was a little bruised and needed the angels to minister to his needs. We will need angels to come alongside us and minister to our needs as we walk this journey. We don’t do this alone. God has given us help in the form of the Holy Spirit to be with us. We are also on this journey with our Christian family. We are all walking this journey together and we can minister to each other as we head for our destination to Easter. “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20
“Two are better than one because they have a good return for their hard work. If either should fall, one can pick up the other. But how miserable are those who fall and don’t have a companion to help them up! Also, if two lie down together, they can stay warm. But how can anyone stay warm alone? Also, one can be overpowered, but two together can put up resistance. A three-ply cord doesn’t easily snap.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Common English Bible (CEB) When we are walking on this journey with others, God is in our midst. While walking this journey with Christ, it is important to get the encouragement and support of others. We need to have the support of others, as well, as being supportive.
This year, I plan on being more reflective. I plan on taking the time to understand that I do have a calling and that calling is to be a kingdom builder. Then, I will take the next step and begin to understand what that means for my life and what God is calling me to do.
I will know there will be roadblocks and detours, but I will prepare myself for them through prayer and scripture. I will understand doing this for forty days will not be easy, but I will remember, I have a perfect example of one who succeeded.
Finally, I will call upon my church family, my family and my friends to walk with me as I take this journey. I will seek their support and encouragement for the next forty days. As Easter approaches, I will be able to rejoice in all that the Lord has taught me about myself on this journey.
Won’t you join me on this journey? It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. You might just be the angel I need and I might be the angel that will need to minister to you along the way. As we approach Easter, together we can begin to sing praises for all the things God has shown us on this journey. We can join together and be kingdom builders for God.
Dear God: You were tempted for forty days. I know during the next forty days, I will be tempted. There will be detours and roadblocks. Help me to navigate around them. As I study your word and pray with you, help me to be ready when Satan comes along to tempt me. Just as the Holy Spirit was with you, remind me I am not taking this journey alone. Help me to understand that I am to be a kingdom builder and give me the wisdom to know what this looks like in my life. Amen