Monday Musings for February 8, 2021

 

Dear Friends,

The season of Lent begins a week from Wednesday (February 17).  Lent is the 40 days (not counting the Sundays) leading up to Easter.  That means Day 40 this year is going to be Saturday, April 3.  On April 4 we celebrate Easter.

Easter is the greatest day of the year for Christians.  It is the day of the resurrection of Jesus.  Lent gives us time to prepare.  Traditionally we think of Lent as a time to give things up that we could do without.  Things like alcohol, soda, or fast food.  Or maybe this year Netflix, Facebook, or Twitter.

I have a list of ten other possibilities.  And since ten will make this way too long, I will share the first three today and the rest over the next two weeks.

1) Give up complaining.  This will be hard for some of us.  What else will we talk about?  Maybe we can think before we speak. Does this negative thought really need to be verbalized?  Do we even need to waste time and energy thinking about it?  Instead, can we think of something good to say?  How about filling our brains with positive, grateful thoughts?  Here is a great verse to carry with you this Lent:  “Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8).

2) Give up comparisons.  The grass always seems greener in somebody else’s yard.  I remember as a child looking at a classmate and wishing I could be him.  He was smarter, more popular, and a better athlete.  Of course, he no doubt had someone else in mind, whose life he envied, who he wished he could be.  (No, it wasn’t me, I promise.)  You’ve got to be content with who you are!  You are awesome, really you are!  God does not want you to be anybody else.  God wants you to get really good at being you.  Keep reading in Philippians, and you come to this verse:  “Not that I complain of want; for I have learned to be content, whatever my circumstances might be” (4:11).

3) Give up striving ambition.  It’s the American way, isn’t it?  There is a ladder to climb.   Wherever you are on that ladder, you aren’t high enough.  You’ve got to climb, push, pull, or strain your way to success.  You’ve got to win, whatever the cost.  There is no bigger disgrace than to be a loser.  AA has an expression that fits here.  “Stinking thinking.”  That’s what this is.  Do you think you might be able to give it up, at least for Lent?  I think of that great hymn, In Christ Alone:  “What heights of love, what depths of peace, when fears are stilled, when strivings cease.”

I’m going to be working on these three along with you.  Next week I’ll share a few more.

In Christ,

 

John