Since I already spoke about one of the basic needs of life last week, I have to stretch my mind a little further this week. Thankfully, this is not hard. Or is it? Well, I’ll try anyway!
Thinking about things that are basic reminds me of a song . . .
“We need to get back
To the basics of life
A heart that is pure
And a love that is blind
A faith that is fervently
grounded in Christ
The hope that endures for all times
These are the basics,
we need to get back
To the basics of life”
(4 Him, 1992)
Yesterday was Ash Wednesday. In certain religious circles it marks the beginning of 40 days of self sacrifice in memory of Somebody else’s sacrifice. They call it Lent.
I’ve mentioned before my religious upbringing. When I was a kid, we did Lent. We abstained from meat on Fridays. We talked about “giving things up for Lent.” But instead of being a beneficial spiritual exercise, it frustrated me. I didn’t understand it and it added to my dislike of religion with its emphasis on guilt.
As a college student, I learned a slightly different perspective on the Cross, which was Jesus’ motivation for coming to earth and dying. It WAS a major sacrifice for him. But He didn’t do it to have something to hold over our heads, or to force us to do unpleasant things, or to give us an unrealistic standard.
He did it because He wanted to!
And He wanted to do it because He loved us, each and every one of us!
Today I am thankful for His love, shown in His sacrifice.
Quite honestly, I’m still not sure about Lent and abstinence. I realize it’s a good thing to follow Jesus’ example; I can accept that we as Americans are wealthier than most of the world; I know that fasting has great spiritual value and can help me to get closer to God. I just am not sure how to do the sacrifice without the guilt. Maybe I just need to focus more on the love aspect.
I’m also thankful for the background of faith that I had growing up. Even in the midst of the yuk and guilt, there are a few folks who shone brighter than the stars on a cold and dark Alaskan winter night. I truly believe that they were the people who “got it,” who saw church and spirituality as more than just “something you do because that’s what you do.”
And I’m thankful that I came to understand that myself!!