We have entered the season of Lent, a period of 40 days before Easter when Christians traditionally lament over their sins and then, in response, choose something to give up such as chocolate or Facebook or alcohol. The idea is to daily turn away from what distracts us or derails us and turn back to God. Instead of giving up something for Lent, this year I encourage you to let go and let God.
TAKE AN INVENTORY
One important concept of any 12-Step program is to “take a fearless and searching moral inventory” of our lives. This Step 4 adventure is rooted in Lamentations 3:40: “Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.” The purpose of this life-long spiritual practice is to become aware of defects or shortcomings in our character and to eliminate them by letting go of them and turning them over to God.
In Galatians 5: 13 – 21, the apostle Paul gives us a useful and brutally honest inventory of “what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time.” Read the list below as described in The Message. Do any of these descriptions of life hit home? Which one (s) do you want to root out from your life? Which one (s) do you want to let go and let God
◊ repetitive, loveless, cheap sex;
◊ a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage;
◊ frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness;
◊ trinket gods;
◊ magic-show religion;
◊ paranoid loneliness;
◊ cutthroat competition;
◊ all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants;
◊ a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved;
◊ divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits;
◊ the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival;
◊ uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions;
◊ ugly parodies of community
But Paul doesn’t stop there. He provides another inventory in verses 22-23, one that describes qualities we that will appear when we prune our ugly defects, give up our addiction to control, and live life in God’s way. These qualities appear as gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard.
◊ affection for others
◊ exuberance about life;
◊ a willingness to stick with things;
◊ a sense of compassion in the heart;
◊ a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people;
◊ involvement in loyal commitments;
◊ not needing to force our way in life;
◊ the ability to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
Which gift do you want to receive and use in God’s Kingdom?