Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What have you given up for Lent?

This past week you probably saw stories on the events taking place in New Orleans. It was time for Mardi Gras. It comes around every year right before the start of Lent. It is a week long celebration that is capped off with parades, music, food, along with some other customs that could sum up as being less than God-pleasing.  The last day of the celebration is called Fat Tuesday with an emphasis on gorging your self with food and drink prior to the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday.
There are other customs associated with Lent that are far more God-pleasing. One such custom is that of giving up something for Lent. The way it works is that you pick out something you enjoy and give it up for Lent. Starbucks coffee on the way to work, eating desserts, or watching television are a few examples. By  making such a sacrifice you help yourself focus on the sacrifice that Jesus made for us on the cross.
This year for Lent, I would like you to consider giving up your doubts, fears, and worries. Easier said than done, you quip. All you have to do is look around you and you find plenty to worry about. We have so many problems in life that it can make one stop and wonder if God really loves us or is watching over us. Why is life so hard? Why so many difficulties? Loved ones die of cancer or some other disease. Our marriage doesn’t work out. We lose our job. The list goes on and on.
In the midst of all this turmoil, in the face of all these difficulties, the Apostle Paul reminds us that God still loves us and has assured us that there is nothing that can come between us and his love. As a child of God, we sit in the ‘catbird seat.’ We can be assured that God is our friend, more than that, our Savior. We can be assured that he uses his almighty power to protect us, watch over us, and bless us. Nothing, not the devil, not sin, not disease, or even death can come between us and God’s love.
Listen to what he says, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or naked ness or danger or sword? …No in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, not any powers, neither height nor depth, not anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35-39