“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3
We are three weeks into Lent and many of us may be struggling with keeping our Lenten goals. Those promises made about what we would give up, take on, or do during the six weeks of the Lenten season. Some may have already faltered in their plan. Please know that you can always begin again. Remember: It is difficult to change a habit or add one to our routine. It is easy…too easy to let ourselves get discouraged and then when we do…we just stop. It is even harder for us when we have given something up, added something, or promised to do something as part of a religious observance. And Lent is a religious observance.
The problem is: we are very human, and we sometimes can’t see past our desires. This is true whether we are giving something up for Lent or we want something we know is not good for us or will cause harm in our life. This is the struggle for addicts. This is the struggle King David went through when he saw Bathsheba and decided to have her for himself. This is the struggle of Peter who denied Jesus not once but three times. This is the struggle. It is why I like the beginning of Hebrews 12 that tells us we are not alone…we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. Both seen and unseen.
I know, at the beginning of Lent, I shared that I was giving up Chai Tea. For the record, I have not had one. I have been able to keep myself focused on the goal I set…or rather focused on the goal I feel God set for me because I would have never willingly given up Chai. This is my daily comfort food…drink…whatever. It is my daily luxury, indulgence, addiction. (sigh) I haven’t even had one on Sunday’s even though Sundays throughout Lent are considered little Easters and are not included in the forty-day count for the Lenten season. But I would be lying to you if I said this has been easy for me. I still desire one every morning. I still think about getting one on Sunday’s. And the reason I don’t is that when I made my Lenten goal for this season, I made it for every day…Sunday through Saturday. So, I am halfway there. I hope you are too. But again, if you have faltered, I am here to encourage you to begin anew and continue to begin anew each morning as you keep the Lenten promises you made.
Again, Hebrews is helpful here as it talks about witnesses, perseverance, and what Jesus did for us. So, I encourage you to bring witnesses into your circle, just as I am bringing all of you into mine, to help hold you accountable to your goals whatever they might be. Just as Hebrew’s reminds us, we must persevere as we throw off everything that hinders the goal(s) we have for our faith life. We must work to stay the course. And again, and I don’t think I can say this enough, please remember: When we get off course, throw off any discouragement and begin from where you are. We walk our faith imperfectly. The important thing to do is to walk…one step at a time…into a deep relationship with God our Father who created us in God’s own image and who loves us more than we could even know.
By the way, one thing I do know, On Easter Sunday, I will be drinking a Chai Tea!