“Jesus only had to die once, right? No need to have to give up anything during this Lent season. Just prepare my heart to celebrate His resurrection.” Those were my thoughts as I waited in line on Ash Wednesday. I had much to learn.
For many years, observing Lent was not a part of my Christian experience. Now a member of a church who does, I have come to see the benefit of this observance. It is a time to remember the shame and guilt Jesus suffered for us on the cross of Calvary—and remember our baptism at the same time.
After receiving the ashes upon my forehead, I sat down. I knew that many observers of Lent deny themselves of certain foods for the purpose of repentance. I bowed my head and prayed—“Father, is there anything you want me to give up this season?”
The thoughts came quickly, and had nothing to do with food. It was all about my heart.
“Let go of your rights as a wife to hold on to and cling to your husband. Let go of your right to fuss at him. Spend more time praying for him and for your relationship.”
I knew the Lord was making me aware of this blind spot of heart attitude and actions He had seen all along. Yet there was no condemnation…only the sweet convicting and convincing love and presence of the Holy Spirit of God. Praying the Lord would forgive and change me, I felt assured He had done that.
Days later I learned more about giving up “my rights”, when I shared this experience with a friend. She grabbed her dictionary, looking for the definition of the word that came to her mind. “The word render means to give up or give back.”
Jesus once spoke of rendering to God the things that are God’s. I was reminded that Dave belongs to the Lord. So do I. We were made in the image of God, male and female. In the context of marriage, my role is to stand alongside my husband and honor and respect him. His role is one of protector, and to love me as Christ loves the church.
It has been a year since that Lent encounter with the Lord. I would love to say I have total victory in this area. Ah, the painful truth is sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. One thing has changed, however. I am more aware of times when my words or actions grieve my husband…and more quick to ask forgiveness from God and my husband. That’s the work of God’s Holy Spirit who indwells me. He is changing me, maybe not as quickly as I desire; but He has started the process that one day will be complete. I am grateful for One who doesn’t give up on me, not that I deserve it, but because of His loving mercy and grace.
The Good News of Lent and Easter is the very foundation of our faith as Christians. Without the Cross there would be no Savior. Without the sacrifice of the perfect son of God, we would be lost in our sin forever. Without the blood of Jesus, there would be no forgiveness. Without the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead, there would be no Eternal Life. Thanks be to God for His unspeakable Gift!
Do you struggle to let go and let God have His way in your life and the lives of your loved ones?
I am so thankful for God’s loving presence and promises, aren’t you?
If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1: 9 NASB).
Being confident of this, He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Phil: 1:6 NIV).