“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” – Jesus
There’s a lot going on these days to try and pay attention to.
First off, it’s February and our ‘missional year at a glance’ theme for the month is love. Even after Valentine’s Day, it’s still the time of year when we go the extra mile to show that special someone, a partner, a family member, a dear friend, that we love them. Valentine’s Day is fun to be both on the giving as well as the receiving side of things. It also reminds me of how much I am loved by God. It’s hard to fathom that the Creator of the universe knows me by name and loves me as though I am His very own child. That’s so hard to get my head around, especially at times when I don’t even love myself all that much.
Which leads me to the second thing; life. As I said earlier, we are busy people. There’s so much going on and it’s hard to take the time needed to pay attention to it all. We’re juggling a lot of balls. Trying to maintain a healthy work/life balance, managing expectations at work and home, prioritizing our work so we can be as effective and efficient as possible while remaining compassionate and connected to our ‘clients’. There are budgets and work plans and strategies and agendas and meetings and paperwork and the list goes on. There’s the gym and eating right and going for walks and taking time for devotions and spending time with kids and taking ‘me’ time to relax and/or have some fun. It’s too much. The balls get dropped all the time and we beat ourselves up for it.
Which brings me to the third and final thing; lent. Valentine’s Day was also Ash Wednesday, putting us less than a week into this 40-ish day season leading up to Easter. We experience the days lengthening (lent), we slowly feel the springtime coming and we are reminded of the hope that awaits us. We feel the weight, the heaviness, of winter slowly lifting off. During this time, we focus on a thing or two that may be getting in the way of our closeness to God. Some choose to give things up like coffee, chocolate, TV, Facebook, etc., while others add things like prayer, scripture and silence. Lent can bring a person closer to God, which can lead to feeling God’s love more deeply, which can lead to loving yourself more and beating yourself up less.
That’s my hope and prayer for you (and me) this season. God loves us for who we are and not for what we do. So it just may be worth prioritizing lent as it can positively affect everything else in your life. God has a way of doing that!
Let’s try and be mindful of that truth this Lenten season as we continue striving to be ‘The Hand of God in the Heart of the City.’
Look upon me and hear my prayer
Without You I can do nothing.
By Your Spirit help me to know what is right
and to be eager in doing Your will.
Teach me to find new life.
help me live by Your commandment of love.
God of love, bring me back to You.
Send Your Spirit to make me strong in faith
and active in good works.
open my heart to Your love,
and prepare me for the coming celebration
of the Resurrection of Jesus.
Lord, during this Lenten Season,
nourish me with Your Word of life
and make me one
with You in love and prayer.
Fill my heart with Your love
and keep me faithful
Give me the grace to rise above my human weakness.
Give me new life
Father, our source of life,
I reach out with joy to grasp Your hand;
let me walk more readily in Your ways.
Guide me in Your gentle mercy,
Father of love, source of all blessings,
Prepare me for the glory of Your Kingdom.
Prayer adapted from here