Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten Season. Also called, Lent, it is the 40 days preceding Easter, not including Sundays. The purpose of Lent is a time of self-reflection, to examine our lives, to ask, what is separating us from God. What are the things that are holding us back from being free to live as joyful, resurrected Christians?
During Lent, some Christians choose to fast or give up certain things that are distractions from being closer to God. It’s also been tradition for Christians to add a spiritual discipline, such as reading a daily devotional to draw nearer to God. I like the idea of doing both!
I think one of the things that holds us back from being closer to God is fear. When we are overwhelmed with fear, we don’t feel close to God; it separates us from God; it separates us from each other; it holds us back from living a joyful life! What if we all used this Lent season to practice facing our fear, rather than running from it? Fear affects so many aspects of our lives, but today I just want to look at three of the most common things that fear can affect.
First of all, you and I don’t want to know the truth. Sometimes the truth seems a little too scary and we’re afraid that if we hear the truth, that we will not be able to handle it. Our health is one area that can be negatively impacted by fear! We have all likely known someone (maybe you have experienced this yourself?) who had reason to believe that something was wrong with their health, but decided not to go to the doctor because they were afraid what they truth might be. When we are so afraid that we cannot handle the truth, sometimes we do nothing and this can lead to very negative conditions when health is concerned.
Secondly, I’ve known many people who find themselves struggling with financial issues. There doesn’t seem to be enough money and their problems get worse and worse, credit card debt builds; but rather than sitting down and saying, let’s track our expenses for one month, let’s look at our budget, rather than facing the truth that could be painful, they just keep on spending until finally one day it all comes together and they have to declare bankruptcy.
And third, I think of how many people I’ve talked to who will say, you know, I should have seen the signs; something wasn’t going right in the relationship. Looking back now I see the signs and I know they were there, but I just didn’t want to confront them; I didn’t want to ask the questions. So they wait and wait trying to ignore the problems, and suddenly the relationship falls apart.
Reality does not change when we deny it; but when we confront reality, we can change how we choose to react to it. When you and I remember that we are not alone, we realize that we have a strength that comes from beyond ourselves, a strength that allows us to face the difficult truth, even when it is hard.
When you find yourself in a dark night, afraid of the truth, don’t close your eyes to the truth. Keep them open and you will see God’s light- a light that leads you to the truth and the person God calls you to be.