Lent: Hair Shirt for the New Millennium

b20520ff3c8509a3ca604023ee3233a9Give up sugar? Booze? Facebook, chocolate, Candy Crush or TV? Maybe you gave up something too deep to tell anybody but God.

And how’s that going for you?

Cuz we are going into “Holy Week “now. Thinking of Jesus riding into town on a donkey to do what He knew had to be done. Wanting, in the Sprit, to join Him in His suffering so we can feel closer to Him in His victory when He rises again.

A holy and beautiful thing.

Bam. Reality. Flesh. Failure.  Again.

Nothing like making a genuine, heartfelt and prayerful Lenten commitment to demonstrate, yet again, what complete, hopeless fleshy losers we are, huh? Why we so desperately need saving. Why we love Someone who says He will.

I don’t know about you and your “intentions.” Some of my friends give up chocolate, some cussing. Some choose a more rigorous discipline of prayer or works or attendance. Some give more to charities.

Me? I wanted to think like God thinks. When a “poor me” or “stupid them” thought popped up, to bash it down and raise up a new, Godly one. Like 2 Corinthians 10:5: “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”

Much more interesting, Godlier even, than giving up my little physical addictions. Won’t I be virtuous? Won’t I be Godly? Won’t it be healing!

Sighhhhhh. Uh. No. I apparently can give up chocolate, meat AND sleeping late if I can juuuust hang onto my twisted little Self-centered thought patterns. Bummer.

I think of the monks of old, wearing hair shirts as a sign of repentance and atonement. Thomas Becket was wearing a hair shirt when he was martyred, Charlemagne was buried in one. But today we just don’t deny ourselves any creature comfort. Spend most of our time, in fact, seeking new ones. A new exotic food, or stylish clothes, rare wine. It simply doesn’t occur to us to WANT to suffer. Mainly just to avoid it at all costs.

Then comes Lent. Everybody is doing it. Remember the Lord. Deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow Him.

And we choose some small token to try.

O.M.G. I hope you had better success with your fasting and praying and sacrifices than I did with my deep desire to give up crappy thinking. Self-thinking. And replace it with Jesus thinking. What I learned from my Lenten journey is that I never would have made it this far without the Lord’s grace and mercy. And that I won’t make it another step without it now.

Failing at such a deep and central soul desire felt like the devil kicking me in the guts yet again. Like he does to so many of our good intentions. Felt like I was letting the devil win…like he no doubt thought he won when he saw Jesus’ bloody body on His mother’s lap.

But there was that third day. Yes. And that empty tomb. AMEN! And everyone who loved the Lord and thought they’d lost Him found out He overcame it ALL. In spite of everything. In spite of them! Whether they ran away or denied him or gave up on Him He rose again. Halleleujah!

So, another lesson on the stony path of Life, this Lent thing. I am nothing. He is everything. And we both can RISE. Because I am hangin onto the hem of His garment with both hands.

Thank You, Lord. Thank You for carrying me when I faint and fall. Loving me when I only grinch and groan. Dragging me when I stubbornly refuse to do Your plain and obvious will instead of my little plan. Thank you. You knew how we would be and loved us anyway.

Whew.

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