"All Go Unto One Place; All Are Of The Dust, And All Turn To Dust Again."
Today is Fat Tuesday ~ Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday ~ The first day of Lent ~ 40 days until Easter (Sundays aren't included).
Lent is a time when many Christians prepare for Easter by observing a period of fasting, repentance, moderation and spiritual discipline.
Not all religions observe Ash Wednesday or Lent, mine however does.
The purpose is to set aside time for reflection on Jesus and how He suffered and His ultimate sacrifice, as well as His life, death, burial and resurrection.
Why 40 days?
Because, after He was baptized, Jesus fasted 40 days in the wilderness, otherwise known as the Temptation of Christ.
During the time He was in the desert, Satan appeared and tempted Him.
Once He refused each of the 3 temptations, Satan departed and the Angels came and brought nourishment to Him.
He did it to show total dependence upon God for life and everything.
And I have heard people complaining about giving up chocolate....
Last year was my first time observing Lent and to be honest, I don't remember what I gave up and most likely it wasn't something that would draw me closer to Him...
It was probably something like soda, not a sacrifice by any means, however I didn't know what Lent truly meant and I was following along because it was something I was "supposed" to be doing during that time.
Pastor says it is time for Lent, time to give up something etc...
So I did it, because I am used to others telling me what to do and not making any effort to think for myself.
This year I actually put some thought into it, seeking out what it meant to really fast, to really repent and to truly sacrifice.
The whole point of this is to draw you closer to Him, to learn how to depend on Him for everything in your life.
The sacrifice should hurt, it should hurt enough to make you call out to Him, in order to get you over the hurdle.
The fasting allows you a greater appreciation for the poor and the hungry.
The almsgiving allows you to give financially or materially to others who are less fortunate than you.
The Lent season is a time to spend in prayer, reflection and repentance.
A time for soul-searching, facing great challenges and overcoming mistakes.
So what is it that I am seeking to learn in the next 40 days?
How to be more virtuous.
I am giving up defending myself, arguing my point and yelling to get my point across.
My Church considers fasting an important way to express sorrow, for sin and penitence for overindulgence in eating and drinking.
Lent is a very personal time for individuals, so the Church doesn't have specific guidelines where fasting is concerned.
I will also be following the Blood:Water Mission and whatever money I normally spend on beverages during the day will be set aside and sent to them after 40 days, which will then be used to drill wells in Africa.
A side note ~ You don't have to be religious to join the Blood:Water Mission, if you think it is something you would like to do, please feel free to go and check out their website.
So back to virtuous ~ Definition ~ Characterized by or possessing virtue or moral excellence; righteous; upright...
There is nothing virtuous about arguing, yelling or defending and I do all three at least once a day, I know some of you are most likely shaking your head or gasping, however I never claimed to be perfect. ;)
I defend my choices, which in turn becomes an argument, on whether my choices are correct, which in turn becomes a yelling match between myself and whomever I am arguing with.
I am not speaking just about family either, I am also speaking about my Church family, though I don't yell at them.
One way or the other, I will accept that this is my life, the choices I now make are going to determine my walk, my Faith, my happiness, my peace and ultimately where I will end up after all is said and done.
It isn't negotiable anymore and no one (except for Him) is going to be allowed to derail what He wants me to do, regardless of who they are.
However, the point can get across without yelling, without arguing and without defending.
Any point can come across in a kind and loving manner, not just on the choices I make, but on anything that brings a rise to my voice and somedays it could just be the fact that I had to wake-up after an almost sleepless night...
As today closes out and tomorrow is closing in, I look forward to learning how to be closer to Him, to seek Him in each and every breath I take, to feel His arms around me as I sleep and as I wake, to seek His wisdom, before I open my mouth, to find His strength, in the work my hands do, to see the beauty He paints for me each and every single day; In the sky, in new friends as well as old ones, in a weathered face, in a flower, in the smell of a raindrop, in the puffiness of a cloud, in the roar of the waves as they break along the shore, in the baby green leaves now being seen on the trees, in the kiss of a wind gust, in the gorgeous cardinal that followed me around on Sunday ~
He paid the ultimate sacrifice for you...
And think about this;
If you were the only person in the world to ever believe in Him, He would do it all over again.
What will you sacrifice for Him?
Isaiah 58:6-9 (The Message) ~ "This is the kind of fast day I'm after: To break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed, cancel debts. What I'm interested in seeing you do is: Sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families. Do this and the lights will turn on, and your lives will turn around at once. Your righteousness will pave your way. The God of glory will secure your passage. Then when you pray, God will answer. You'll call out for help and I'll say, 'Here I am.'"
MICHAEL W. SMITH
Why Is This So Hard To Believe
What Is Mine Is Mine To Freely Receive
Like The Changing Of Seasons
This Is The Beauty Of The Word
And For All That I Have Seen And Heard
Oh I Want To Come Home
Somehow I'll Make My Way - My Way Home To You