40 Days for a Change

We have just observed Ash Wednesday worship, where we reacquainted ourselves with our mortality as well as with our need to become more aware of how we can best live out our faith in God. Jesus did that too as he prepared for public ministry through baptism, then isolating from other people and emptying himself spiritually and physically, for over 40 days through fasting and praying, to connect more deeply and be in accord with God first and foremost.

Then, to receive power from the Holy Spirit to start his journey and fulfill his purpose on earth by way of the consecrated time spent in the wilderness, he went out to preach, teach, heal, and most of all, love all the people whom he touched and who touched him.

For our consideration, as we go through the Lenten Season and beyond, I think that we should focus our attention on both the sacrifice that Christ made for us and our sacrifice of the thoughts, words, and actions that are preventing God from accessing total control of our lives; and how we deal with this central question: Are we interested not only in stopping the thoughts, words, and actions that we know are against God's will but also ask ourselves are we actually offended by the parts of us that prevent us from being completely unified with God? Will we allow God to separate us and have our undivided attention to imprint upon our souls the divine mark that transforms the parts of our personalities that distract, stymie, and detract from total harmony with God?

We are nearing the one-year mark of the beginning of the sheltering in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have had to adjust and then readjust several times to the viral assault that descended upon us. And during that time, it has become abundantly clear that we need to get time alone with God. We have been alone with our families and away from our jobs in person, for the most part, so it seems that we have already been taking time to be alone with God while we shelter at home.

Nevertheless, we have been so distracted by trying to manage the effects of the health concerns due to the pandemic and been preoccupied with the changes in daily living from how we do our jobs, how we entertain ourselves, feed ourselves, and how we worship and engage each other in ministry.

Even though we have limited how much we travel and have experienced a much-diminished level of connection with one another by staying at home more often, we are still in need of intentionally setting aside sacred time alone with God during Lent. That is because we have not totally given up the things that distract us. I believe our distractions and concerns are more numerous this year. Our lives have been interrupted in a bad way since March of 2020. Now, more than ever, we need to center on God and how to focus on creating deeper connections with God for whatever the future holds.

We have overcome so many things that potentially could have driven us apart and broken us down. We have been very resilient when it comes to adapting to a harsh year, but are we taking that same approach to our relationship with God? I ask that you read Mark 1:9-15 to find out how Jesus came to express his level of commitment to being spiritually, emotionally, and physically available for God to use him as he prepared for the greatest undertaking known to humankind. How do you think verses 12 and 13 could apply to us today? Stay open to God's leading. Amen!

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