One of the most difficult things about loving someone in their time of need is that there isn’t a road map. Every person is different, and every need is unique to them. Letting go of what you think you should say and do makes room for a response that serves that person. Staying present in the moment with that person allows you to show up for them in the best way. It allows you to connect with God so that you can offer what the person in front of you truly needs.
This same confusion can happen in our relationship with God. We can find comfort in being given a list of things to do to serve Him, instead of having to take time in each moment to discern what His will truly is. As we begin our Lenten journey, it can be easy to find comfort in the life of the church. If we are doing all the right things…attending the services, fasting, and giving charitably…then we might tie a bow on living our faith in the proper way and call it a day. The reality, though, is that our faith is not a list of whats. Our faith is a WHO.
Often we ask: What do we believe?
A better question is: Who do we believe in? To know who we are is not to know what to do. It’s to know Jesus Christ. To know Him is to know ourselves. To seek Him is an act of love that never ends.
The actions of Lent are meant to bring our hearts back to God. Every choice to be disciplined at meals is meant to lead us to repent for choosing to turn away from God. Every additional service that we choose to attend it to lead us to be attentive to God and others. Every dollar we give should remind us of a person who is suffering and lead us towards them. Lent is a walk to the Cross with Christ. It is an opportunity for renewal and repentance. Our Lenten prescriptions given by the Church are meant to offer the support and community we need for this walk. They are meant to draw us to Christ so that we can live into who we truly are. They are not simply the list of what to do to follow our Lord. To follow, is to love.
“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 12:34-35
As I’ve noted in other posts, to follow Christ is to be one who has love for another…who loves as He did. This walk to the Cross with Christ is what should always be our reality. The Lenten journey and the empty tomb wake us up to what we should awake to every morning. The tomb allows us to put to death what pulls us away from the Lord so that we can truly live in the light of the empty tomb. The light shows us where our eyes need to be…on the Lord and the person in front of us. We can eat vegetables all we want, but that action is empty if we don’t feed the one who is hungry. We can rejoice in being at services 5 times a week, if being in Lord’s house calls us to better serve those in our own homes. Truly serving the Lord isn’t simply participating in the rituals of the Church and feeling that we’ve won. The rituals are meant to lead us to be followers of Christ and lose ourselves by giving our lives for the life of the world.
We don’t consciously realize that we’re asking the wrong questions when it comes to living what we believe. We want the easy list of to-dos because it is much more difficult to connect with the Lord in each moment and discover Him and His will. Lent is an opportunity to draw near to Him, to seek Him, and to ask the better questions:
Who is God?
Who am I?
Who is my neighbor?
Let us pray that the actions of Lent bring us closer to these answers, so that we may turn back to our Lord and love others and He did.