Friday, March 9, 2012

Lent 2012 - Boasting in Weakness

It's been a little over two weeks since Lent began, and I've noticed something significant going on for me as I have observed it. Before I jump in, however, let me offer somewhat of a disclaimer.

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Lent is often observed by prayer and fasting. Fasting, as the Bible teaches, is meant to be a private act of worship and submission to God. Thus, it is best for a Lenton observer in this sense to quietly fast from whatever he chooses without making it known to anyone else (otherwise, his reward will be earthly pride rather than heavenly blessing). For the record, I am not observing Lent for this reason.

When I have observed Lent in the past, it has been for the purpose of sacrificing something in my life voluntarily so that God can be first on the throne of my heart. Going without something important to me reveals its true hold and reflects my heart's real king. And, knowing myself and that Scripture tells me I'm prone to wander, I have yet to run out of ways of discovering my heart's treason. One way I've learned to expose these lies is through hearing others' experiences and their responses to my own Lent observations.

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That said, let me share what I've learned in these first two weeks of Lent. First, I am so easily deceived. I think that most of the time God is the only One I worship and that I've put away all idols, but observing Lent this year reminds me that I'm lying to myself. My heart is too easily distracted and needs constant supervision. There is no hope for probation here; it must remain locked up in death to self so that it can be free to choose God's love and grace. However, this doesn't come naturally and I must remain watchful.

Secondly, I've learned that trusting God is hard. It's so much easier to trust in the things of this world or tools God uses, but this is not trusting Him. So often I have found myself relying on finances, my own skills, others' advice, and a whole host of other things that can be good things but incapable of bearing my trust. They merely give me the illusion of trust and security.

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Lastly, and in conjunction with the last point, I need to work on trusting God alone for who He is, not just what He can do. So many times I've found myself asking for His help, and then realizing that I've spent the majority of my prayer time in supplication and not enough in satisfaction and thankfulness. Instead of being content in my circumstances, confident in His sovereign wisdom and love, and hopeful about His ability to bring about His own glory and my good, I lose faith and become anxious. In my fears and worries, God is surely not glorified and I am far from satisfied.

So, I'm thankful for Lent this year. God has taken my sins and my struggles, cast them upon His capable shoulders, and shown me even for a mere couple of weeks that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He is worthy of my trust, my obedience, and my praise. He has graciously given me a glimpse into what Paul meant when He said, "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

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