We are more than halfway through with the Lent season and I thought it would be important for us to analyze how the first half has been so far. I had hoped to chronicle every day here but i thought to wait it out and write midway.
I had planned on giving up so many things during this period, dedicate more time to God, help more and mostly, pray often and spend more time with God. While I am not making excuses, life gets in the way sometimes and it did get in my way.
I had planned to give up chocolate and anything that wasn't good for my body like fries, ice cream, cakes and all the fatty food you can think of, as a way to cleanse my system for Lent. The first week i was able to pull it off and after that, I would forget sometimes and eat them, realize only after i had taken a bite or even finished eating that i wasn't supposed to be eating that.
I had also planned to give away some of my clothes and shoes to the needy and volunteer more time at one of the many community outreach at church. The clothes and shoes i did give away and i was proud of myself because these clothes and shoes, i still had enough wear in them and i loved most of them but i gave them away with so much ease.But i hadn't been able to volunteer my time to help in the community until this weekend and i am so looking forward to it.
Another thing i had planned to do was fasting and it was easy to follow up with this because I had just recently incorporated it in my life. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of fasting and the feeling that comes with it. It is liberating and the joy that comes during and after the fast when you are breaking it with songs of praise and worship is astounding. It is truly something to experience.
And the last things I had planned to do, was not to get angry with people or not to take things too seriously or personally, to be more forgiving and tolerant of people, to show more compassion towards people as Christ shows to me, to love all, to not be judgemental and most of all to love God more by calling and praying to him often.
I cannot tell you in all honesty that I did all the things listed above as i had hoped to, or that the season hasn't been riddled with its own temptations. I failed several times on the plan of cleansing my body as i indulged, sometimes greedily on satiating my sweet tooth. I got overwhelmed and busy I forgot to volunteer my time to help a just cause.I let people get to me sometimes and lashed out at them only to regret it moments later, wishing i had thought before acting. I wasn't easily forgiving when i got hurt and i occasionally judged people when it was not my place to do so.
Yes i faltered and i take full responsibility for not being a good ambassador of Christ. But i am happy for my little victories too. The times when i craved a chocolate bar and saw it right in front of me but passed it up,the times when someone hurt me and i didn't let them get to me, the joy i felt when i went through my closet picking out clothes and shoes to give away, the times i fasted and the wonderful experience that it was, the times when i was understanding, tolerant towards people and mostly, the times i spent in God's presence.
I analyzed my first half of Lent and it hadn't quite gone the way i had planned to, so i hit the reset button a few days ago and that is why i wrote this morning. To tell you that, you too can hit the reset button. Have you analyzed your first half and you too like me weren't very proud of yourself? Is there more you know you can do and wish to do? Do you want to correct yourself in the little time we have left?
Good news. You can correct yourself.There are so many things that God has promised us and reassured us of, and one of those things is His forgiveness. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 says 'All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.". In this verse, we see that God already forgave us our sins even before we wronged him when he gave Jesus Christ on the cross for us.Christ coming was to reconcile us back to God and because he loves us so much, he doesn't keep scores of our wrongs.
We have guaranteed grace from God but we must always seek for that grace first.We must always come to God with contrite and genuine hearts for 1 John 1:9 says 'If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.' and Acts 3:19 reads 'Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord'. For us to move forward and start all over on a clean slate, we need to ask first for forgiveness for the past wrongs and repent from them,and as we have been assured,God is just waiting for us to ask and it is done.
Starting over not only means asking God for forgiveness but forgiving those people whose hurt in our hearts may be holding us back form our salvation. Mathew 6:14-15 says 'For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.' and Mark 11:25 says 'And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. ". It is not enough to ask God for forgiveness because we know it is already granted but we have to forgive others. Unforgiveness holds our blessings back from God and it keeps us prisoners of our own emotions and lives, while the person we are angry with goes about their life and we are filled with so much bitterness. Whatever it is, we need to let go and release God's blessings and forgiveness to us.
Some of us might be so disappointed with ourselves that we feel discouraged to start over but God's arms are always open to receive His children. So many times we have read in the Bible of how the Israelites wronged God and how God accepted them into his presence. God has promised to never forsake those who call on his name and if you think you will not be able to do it, just call on him . Isaiah 41:10 says ' fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand'. and Exodus 15:2 says 'The LORD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.'.God is your strength and your courage and he is willing and ready to walk this journey with you.
1 Corinthians 10:13 'No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.' It doesn't matter what may be ahead of you or what you think you are afraid of. God already knows the temptations will abound. They will come in all forms, friends, trouble at work, dysfunction in the family and more and even battle in the spiritual realm that you can't see. But as Paul told the people of Corinthians, he is saying it to you me. No temptation will befall you that man has not seen, but through it all, God will be faithful. He will not let it happen and even if it did, God will make a way through for you.
So braze yourselves up, dust yourselves up and get back on the wagon. For we are not only ambassadors of Christ especially during the Lent season, but every day of our lives and we need both God's forgiveness to start over and his courage and strength to keep going forward. Our journey as Christ's ambassadors, as Christ's feet and hands on earth is never ending. But we need to know that whenever we falter or fall short of doing that, He is always ready to lift us up again with his love,his grace,his mercy,compassion and kindness.
For those who have done good so far, keep it up and expect your reward only in God and for those like me who failed in some areas, here is a second chance to do it all over.It is never late with God because all he cares about is our hearts and its genuineness in serving him and doing his works.So go ahead and make those plans again, this time knowing that God has forgiven the past,is glad you are back and is ready to walk with you through the whole journey.
I leave you with one of the powerful verses in the Bible from Philippians 4:13' I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.' Have that at the back of your mind always and with Christ, indeed all things are possible. Wishing you the best as you go through the last days of Lent,may you find strength in Christ and may he guide your ways always.
Happy and blessed weekend.