This Lenten journey has been unlike my first and only other.
The first (2013) changed me in a way I didn’t expect. Well, actually, I expected NO real change to occur. I thought I might come out of Lent feeling stronger and more capable of self control but that was all I thought could happen from my experience.
What did happen is that my taste changed. Ketchup now tastes dirty…nasty…disagreeable to me.
This Lenten journey, much more is at play than a simple ketchup fast. In some ways I wish it were as simple.
Living my life in a manner that seeks the approval of God rather than that of people around me is a stretch that I thought I could easily make (with God’s help, of course). But, I am finding that seeking the approval of people is something I automatically do…have done since childhood. It’s what I’ve been taught…trained…coached to do – and to be.
Home, church, school, play…pleasing people and keeping them happy made life seem easier and if I could do so within the bounds God set, then it was a win-win. Or, so I thought.
I suppose in some ways it’s what’s kept me on the straight and narrow path of conformity to what’s expected of me.
All too often I ask myself:
- Will my actions offend so and so?
- What will they think of me?
- Will they understand where I’m coming from?
- Should I explain myself…my intentions?
- Do I need to share why I didn’t…?
- How should I approach them?
- How should I phrase my words?
- What if they don’t like me anymore?
- What if I’m misunderstood?
What I should ask myself is:
- Will my actions please God?
- What will God think of what I do?
- Am I bringing honor to God’s name?
- Are my words bringing glory to God?
- Am I creating a path that others can follow to God?
- Do my actions and attitudes prevent others from finding God?
What I need is a new mindset. (Note in particular that which is underlined.)
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:1-11 ESV)
Paul also said:
…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life…. (Philippians 2:12b-16a)
With this in mind I head back into living life and embracing more fully what God has for me this Lenten season.