First Thursday Following Ash Wednesday
When I am being honest in my prayers, I find that I am very much like the disciples during their early days, their first months, perhaps first year with Jesus – my mind and imagination are full of any number of “first year,” or Freshman, aspirations and preoccupations.
- Maybe I should go out for this Christian “team.”
- Maybe I should join this movement?
- Maybe I should become an expert in this field of Christian endeavor.
- Maybe I should hang out with this group/click in the Christian neighborhood.
- Maybe I should become this kind of saintly and Godly person.
But when the honesty begins to slowly seep into my consciousness, and I realize that I have quite enough sins to dwell upon, and quite enough forgiveness to ask for; and quite enough other people to pray for – the comes the quiet realization that perhaps the real question I should be asking is, “For whom, for what, am I willing to die to myself and my “first year” dreams today? What, truly, is worth the gift of a life?
For me, perhaps for you, there is one kind of conversation with God that is about all the “gains” I might be making, or to which I might be contributing, as I follow Christ; and there is another kind of conversation when the honesty creeps in as the unforeseen, unmanageable, guest which begins asking what sort of “losses” I might be called upon to make as God takes hold of my real life.
We are entering the season of counting the costs. Both the cost that Jesus discovers that He will be called upon to offer so that our lives might not be lost to this world; and counting the cost of what we are discovering is keeping us from Christ’s voice and path in our own lives.
Most of us are drawn to Lenten devotion because this season invites, it allows, it consecrates that most personal and intimate conversation that we have with God; the place where we admit that we know God is talking to us, and we admit that we truly desire to know God. Our Lenten journey, it taken with the kind of honesty that we often avoid, will uncover the traces of the lifeline for which we are reaching in the deep waters of our lives.
The promise is that we are not swimming in our own deep waters alone; there is a friend in the great swells and waves that would otherwise sink us. However, Jesus wants both of our hands, because we will not be able to follow Him and bring our versions ourselves and our lives with us. There is a time to drop those things that would cause us to sink, and begin to follow Christ and swim toward the shore to which He is leading us.
Here is a story to share, something to consider as we watch and pray with our brothers and sisters in the Ukraine.
The Declaration of Independence was signed by fifty-six men. In signing this document, they put their lives and their fortunes on the line. Treason was the word the British would use to describe what they did. Many of them lost everything. Thomas Nelson Jr. was one of these men. Nelson was wealthy. He often paid for, or lent the money to buy the munitions that George Washington’s men desperately needed. During the Battle of Yorktown, British General Cornwallis took over Nelson’s home as his headquarters. It was not just a move for Cornwallis’ comfort, or to make a symbolic point as to who was in charge. It was a strategic defensive move. The British general knew that that Washington’s men would never open fire on the grand estate of their great friend and benefactor, Thomas Nelson. However Nelson saw the predicament General Washington was in, and how the cannons were not even pointed in the direction of the enemy’s headquarters. Nelson quietly went up to Washington and urged him to open the canon fire on his own home—now Cornwallis new headquarters. Washington did open fire and the home was destroyed.
John Cragg, “Investing in Troubled Times,” Long Island Youth Mentoring newsletter (7-20-16)