Lent might be viewed as the alarm clock on your bedside table. It is meant to wake you up.
For many years, in fact for most of my life, the importance of an awakening was lost in the daily shuffle of accommodating myself to the realities of the material world with little serious consideration given to the much more important spiritual realities that each of us eventually have to wrestle with if we are to find God and complete our pilgrimage successfully.
From the time we reach the age of reason we make choices in life that move us closer to or further away from God. In theology this is often referred to as the “fundamental option”. An apt analogy would be a log stripped of its branches and bark and lying on a hillside so that it is sloped up hill. The log is wet and very difficult to navigate because of this. Our life can sometimes be like that log. Sin is the substance that creates a wet and slippery surface and if we are moving towards God our sinfulness nevertheless impedes our progress. If we are moving away from God, gravity and the slippery surface accelerate that process and we move downhill rapidly. Naturally, the enemy is there playing 2nd fiddle to our more nefarious desires with the hope that we slide so far that we lose sight of the prize, the pearl of great value that is our salvation.
Fortunately our God is a God of great love and great mercy but our God is also a God who respects our choices. He has given us His Word and the sacramental life of the Church to guide us and to strengthen us. He does insist that we make a choice. We can either choose to serve self or we can choose to serve Him and others.
That brings us back to the “awakening”. Lent is a very good time to take stock of what we really value as we continue our daily pilgrimage. If we are getting on in years, as I am, we have probably concluded that what the world offers us in place of a relationship with our God is really counterfeit. We’ve no doubt noticed that it doesn’t bring us lasting satisfaction: it doesn’t fill that giant hole inside us that only God can fill. Of, course we can continue to fool ourselves into thinking that if only we could do this or do that or achieve that, we would be fulfilled. Alternatively, we could finally get wise and choose to replace the false gods we may so lovingly embrace with the God who can really lift us up and make our life meaningful. In theory the latter choice is a simple one but not one the enemy wants you to make so you will need to cast aside your self reliance and allow God to pick you up and embrace you. Use this Lent to get to know your awesome God. Your Savior wants you to be everything you can be. One way to move in the right direction is to take the time to actually read the 4 gospels. That’s one of the steps I am taking. Make this lent pivotal in your spiritual life and experience the joy of getting to know your Savior better.