An important part of Lent for me is taking seriously the time for self examination. It is not an easy thing to do, self examination. We need help to look at ourselves, because we don’t often see ourselves honestly. I know I don’t.
Most of the time my view of my self is tinted with prejudice and practiced self justification. I don’t want to be too hard on myself so I cut myself some slack. Plus I want to be happy and so I will side with the things that make my life easier. I am prejudice in my own favour. And as I make those choices I will often say to my self, well, I deserve it, for some reason or another, like “I have had a busy week” or “It is my turn to get what I want.” It actually pretty hard to admit that to yourself.
About a month ago, I said to myself, “It’s my turn to get what I want.” It was something on my Christmas list, which I didn’t get. Poor me. It wasn’t something that I needed, but it was something that I wanted. A fancy pedometer. Not a perfectly good ten dollar one from Canadian Tire. No, I deserved better. I bought a $60 dollar one that would let me track my steps and examine everyday’s steps in five minutes increments synchronized to the web and to my phone. I helped myself to justified this expense because I was not buying the more expensive model. A hundred dollars would be too much to spend, of course. I would be giving up those extra features, like tracking my sleep and stair climbing. Oh, how good I was being, buying the $60 model. See how good I am at justifying my indulgence! Preaching and writing about it is a public confession that also makes me feel better about it. I am good at this, eh?
We easily get caught up in our own thoughts and perspective, convincing ourselves we are right and that we know what we are.
We need help to look at ourself. Obviously, I need help. We easily get caught up in our own thoughts and perspective, convincing ourselves we are right and that we know what we are. Of course, it’s not often true.The truth is that we need some one who loves us so much that we can trust them to be truthful to us about ourselves. If we are fortunate we might have one or two people in our life that can be that kind of person for us.
I know it is a bit corny, but one of my favourite hymns is “What a friend we have in Jesus”. But, the part of the sentiment of that song that I like is the awesome relationship that God has offered us in Jesus Christ. Although the song frames the relationship in terms of friendship and prayer, it points to a relationship that is stronger and more beneficial than any human relationship. A relationship that goes beyond what is humanly possible. A relationship that remains, even if our human relationships fail. A relationship that helps us grow to be better than we are and to be more honest and truthful with ourselves. We need help to look honestly at ourselves and God knows us better than we know ourself.
In the hearing the story of Jesus over the Holy Week and Easter, we have seen this relationship demonstrated. Jesus prays in the garden, in the face of a painful death, and seeks understanding and comfort in his relationship with the Father. His friends and closest disciples deny him and abandon him. Yet, he and God never give up on them or any one. The resurrection is done for everyone. His friends and his followers, even thought they made mistakes or left him. His enemies and those that persecuted him. He did it for them all. He did it for us. What a friend we have in Jesus, indeed!
Praying to God is a lot like walking.
Praying to God is a lot like walking. It is simple and requires little equipment and it is good for us. I learned something about myself when I started wearing my pedometer all day long. It was a bit of a shock and pretty sobering. I was a lot less active than I thought I was. There it was in the numbers. Yet, with this truth in hand and with daily use, I have been able to increase my activity. The same goes for prayer. It sounds simple, and we may think that we already are pretty good at doing it, but the more frequently we pray the more we grow in our relationship with God. Every prayer like a step that takes us closer to God.