"Old habits die hard." That saying reminds me of how difficult it is to change our ways and our views.
When we are looking to better ourselves through improved nutrition, losing weight or more exercise, it is so hard to maintain a new regime or mindset. Despite our best efforts, the fruits and vegetables get pushed to the back of the fridge. The not so healthy food choices suddenly find their way back into the pantry. The exercise equipment purchased to help shed those pounds, now becomes a holder for discarded clothing.
The better diet, lost weight and increased exercise are things that most agree are positive changes. Our less than ideal diet, extra weight and poorer physical condition are not sinful, yet it is profoundly difficult to make changes for the better.
How much more challenging it is for us to make changes away from things which are considered sinful!
Jonah (Jonah 3. 1-10), received word from God that he should go to Nineveh and proclaim a message. His message was that in 40 days Nineveh would be overthrown. The king of Nineveh proclaimed that all should turn from their evil ways and from the violence in their hands.
Having the word of God and a proclamation given by the king did promote a change in attitude and behavior.
Most of us will never receive a proclamation to help us change sinful areas of our lives. In Luke (11:29-32), Jonah was considered a sign to the people of Nineveh and the Son of Man will be a sign to this generation.
As we journey Lent we consider what we can do to move from our sinful ways. The answer of prayer, fasting and almsgiving flows off our tongue easily. But how do we translate these suggestions into concrete examples? After making our Lenten plan, we sometimes get to the end of Lent and find ourselves and our life unchanged.
Bob Rice, a Lenten Mission speaker, suggested that if we want to see God's love for us, we ponder Jesus on the cross.
In spending quiet moments of contemplation and reflection with Jesus on the cross, the journey through lent may become a chance to see the depth of God's love for us. When we see God's love through Jesus on the cross then we will be better able to leave our sinfulness at the foot of the cross.
Grant us the strength to stay the course,
Help us to remain strong in our devotion to you,
Give us the courage and zeal to turn away from our old selves,
So that at the end of Lent we may be closer to you,
We ask this through Your Son, our Lord and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.