Lent is my favorite time of the Christian year. I really look forward to it. I also like Advent, but I’m an Easter person. I’ve been known to delve into some absurd discussions about the importance of Easter over Christmas. To me, Christmas is the promise, and Easter is the promise made real.
I must also admit that going into this Lent, I was a mess. There are a number of problems going on in my personal life that I’ve not mentioned here. I’ve started a little blog about what is going on with my parents. I think it is much easier than constantly answering questions.
When I went into Lent this year, my faith was strained. There were several times I reached out to someone who frequently comments here at The Pink Flamingo. I treasure her prayers and her wisdom. Through Jose Maria I learned that it was okay to question my faith and to be a little annoyed with God. She taught me to look for the lament Psalms. It was through her advise that one night I received a spiritual attitude adjustment.
I was terribly upset with all the things going on with my parents. I came on Psalm 22. That was a slap in the face.
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;
and by night, but find no rest.15 my mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.
16 For dogs are all around me;
a company of evildoers encircles me.
My hands and feet have shrivelled;
17 I can count all my bones.
They stare and gloat over me;
18 they divide my clothes among themselves,
and for my clothing they cast lots.
19 But you, O Lord, do not be far away!
O my help, come quickly to my aid!
20 Deliver my soul from the sword,
my life from the power of the dog!
That took care of it for me. I was simply having a rough time. Things weren’t going my way, and I was mad at God. I wasn’t being crucified, so why was I complaining. David, in the 22nd Psalm, foretold of the Crucifixion of Christ. God had a plan. I knew that, but I was being a jerk.
I complained that my prayers were never answered. The very next day came the announcement that there was a new med for lupus. My “other” sister, Alicia has lupus. We’ve been praying for a new medication for years!
Then, well, there was that fire.
It came within about 100 yards of my condo, and just plain old stopped.
Yea, God answers prayers. Sometimes the flames come 100 yards from your home – just to get your attention.
Then there was another incident. One of the problems with my father is that the judgment portion of his brain is not firing on all thrusters. He is very easily taken advantage of. And – two weeks ago he was. I’ve had to scramble to take care of the incident.
I’ve learned a lot. What I’ve been through this past six weeks has not been easy, at all. It is exhausting, mentally. But, I think I am a better person for it. My faith is stronger.
It has been a very good Lent.
From April 17 God at Eventide:
Life has so many lessons to teach you. You may not be able to travel through your material world. But for your spirit there are vast and beautiful realms in which you can be ever traveling and exploring; and, with ever-increasing capacity for enjoyment, discovering new beauties of Spiritual Truth.”
This is what I have learned. It comes from the April 17 God Calling:
The Two Joys
My children, I come. Hearts eager to do My Will, send out a call that ever I find irresistible. I know no barrier then.
Resignation to My Will keeps Me barred out from more Hearts than does unbelief. Can anything be such a crime against Love as being resigned? My Will should be welcomed with a glad wonder if I am to do My Work in the heart and life.
The only resignation that could possibly be acceptable to Me is when Self, ousted by My claims, accepts the inevitable and resigns the throne for Me, leaving My Disciple free to carry out My Will, to welcome My Will gladly, rapturously.
In all true discipleship, and in the true spiritual development of each disciple, there is first the wonder and the joy of first acquaintance, then comes the long plain stretch of lesson-learning and discipline, when Joy seems so much a thing of the past as never to be recaptured again.
But the constant experience of Me, the constant persistent recognition of My Work in daily happenings — the ever accumulating weight of evidence in support of My Guidance — the numberless instances in which seeming chance or wonderful coincidence can be, must be, traced back to My loving forethought — all these gradually engender a feeling of wonder, certainty, gratitude, followed in time by Joy.
Joy is of two kinds. The Joy born of Love and Wonder, and the Joy born of Love and Knowledge, and between the experience of the two Joys lie discipline, disappointment, almost disillusion.
But combat these in My Strength, or rather cling blindly, helplessly to Me and let Me combat them, persevere in obeying My Will, accept My discipline, and the second Joy will follow .
And of this second Joy it was that I said, “Your joy no man taketh from you.”
Do not regret the first, the second is the greater gift.
If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make your free.” John 8:31, 32
It has been my best Lent.
I have reclaimed my praise.
Where my faith had been lost shattered, it has been renewed by the abject Hand of God. How else to you explain the fire? How else do you explain the fact that so many people I know had their homes and lives protected?
Going into this Lent was rough. My father had just been diagnosed with a progressive brain deterioration much like the old fashioned hardening of the arteries. My mother, sister, and I were forced to admit that the person we once knew is slowly slipping away from us. This very week I watched as he has become almost an old man. I have watched my mother and her sorrow over this. I have also seen her regain the strength that had been taken from her when she had heart failure six years ago this week.
In my personal life, things will not be easy these next few months, and probably not this upcoming year. I have faced the realization that my book is being pushed back a year. I’ve had to take over my parents finances, budget, and learn to do stuff I’ve not done.
It looks, though, like I have regained my praise. I’ve had to have things hit me in the face, and realize there are no excuses.
I’ve learned a lot about the Gifts the Lord gives us. I never understood this, maybe because I’ve not been asking for the Gift He wishes me to have. This year I discovered what that gift was, and have asked. I have received. I am thankful for it. The Gift that has been bestowed upon me is changing my life. It is changing the way I see the world. It is changing the way I approach everything.
The Lord is Good!
I may not have been all that good about going to church this year. I’ve had my reasons. I’ve not gone this Holy Week. I don’t like going to church on Good Friday. Maybe this year I have felt the Sacrifice, and feel that I am not worthy.
I think about what a lousy, miserable, piece of %$@* person I am. I am not worthy. But Christ died, He suffered for me, for horrid little me.
This year His Sacrifice is very overwhelming.
Like everyone else, my life has been full of ups and downs, with a heck of a lot of downs. I’ve learned there is a reason for those downs. As a writer – there’s gotta’ be a book in it!
One of my favorite parts of Easter is the fact that the very first person to see the Risen Christ was a woman – Mary Magdalene. When I was working with the girls in my youth group, I always reminded them that the very first Christian – the very first person to acknowledge the Risen Christ was a woman. The very first Apostle (someone who saw the Risen Christ) was a woman.
I know there is a message for us somewhere in there. I just need to figure out what it is. This brings me to my very favorite hymn.
Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
Who did once, upon the cross, Alleluia!
Suffer to redeem our loss, Alleluia!
Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
Unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!
Who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
Sinners to redeem and save, Alleluia!
But the pain which He endured, Alleluia!
Our salvation hath procured, Alleluia!
Now above the sky He’s king, Alleluia!
Where the angels ever sing, Alleluia!
Sing we to our God above, Alleluia!
Praise eternal as His love, Alleluia!
Praise Him, all you heavenly host, Alleluia!
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Alleluia!
Now, please pass the Peeps!