Leave Every Negative Thought: L.E.N.T. Embrace JOY!
We’re just five weeks into LENT in preparation for passion week and everything our Savior would suffer for us to bring us life. Five weeks in and my “failing flesh” is very apparent as some of my “spiritual goals” quickly took a nose dive. Or I even forgot momentarily what some of those Lenten goals were…
Lent is a time to pray, fast, seek God, and give alms to others. I wanted to fast from one thing! A friend shared an acronym with me of another meaning of LENT:
So that was my goal to fast from all forms of negativity. But I quickly descended into doubtful thoughts these past few weeks. Helping a friend with her daughter’s wedding, I realized my need for more order and structure was quickly leading me down a path of worry. I like a plan: detailed and in advance with order. And I was trying to control what was out of my control. Even the weather had forecasted rain, then saying temperatures in the 60’s would drop to the 30’s! An outdoor wedding: no back up plan, no outdoor heaters!
Wasted energy consumed me with worry. Oh, me of little faith! The wedding, program, songs, decor, food, music, and details all came together. The weather cleared and it was a perfect spring day in the 70’s! My worry didn’t help one bit. My faith was in low reserves at times, but God was so very faithful!
Then I not only had a health flare the previous week, but a close family member has been sick too. And as we try to navigate uncharted waters of illness, fear has held me captive as I’ve twisted and turned in bed at night. My stomach has twisted and turned too. Distrustful attitudes toward God and fear added to unnecessary stress. Where was my faith in God? Where was my trust? F.E.A.R. can be false evidence appearing real. Turns out: no bladder cancer, but it’s still a journey. And I realized my need for a Savior couldn’t wait until resurrection morning. I needed a right now God!
Then trying to help with organizing the big wedding day event we’d worked on for months and months with my friend(s), I quickly descended into a short temper at times setting up and later tearing down tables and decorations at the venue when many things were not going as planned. Some volunteers and helpers seemed to be in short supply as was my joyful attitude at times.
Forget Bridezilla and Momzilla! Some moments I was Helperzilla giving into frustration with how we were running behind schedule. Ah! But rather than talk to Jesus about the need, I simply went into overdrive! He still showed up “turning the water into wine,” meeting the multitude of needs, sending many unexpected helpers. My daughter stepped into help with the bridal party upstairs while I was still busy outside working, barely slipping into my seat just when the service started.
And later during cleanup, one little 9-year-old boy, Nate, the ring bearer said, “I’m tired, but what can I do to help you?” He hung with me until every last chair was back in place around the pool and lower level of the event center and all the trash was collected. My heart still smiles at precious Nate! My granddaughter JoJo was honored to be the flower girl that day. She didn’t want to leave; she was having the best time feeling like a princess herself! “Oh! Let the little children come….” Children have a way of giving you a new perspective.
It was a beautiful, most glorious celebration. God loves weddings. Jesus’ first miracle displayed on earth happened at a wedding back then, and last weekend. The bride even sang to her beloved. Reminds me of how Jesus sings over us. And anytime there was a need or short supply, Jesus provided. HE PROVIDED!
Isn’t that the way He likes to work? That way He gets the glory! But I’m still trying to be more of a Mary (trustful, worshipful, joyful, and calm), and less of a Martha (doer, driven, planner, and fearful)! I see just how miserably I’ve failed in my noble goals these past few weeks of Lent. I can’t NOT have a single negative thought or attitude without the power of something greater than me! That’s why I need a Savior: fresh, anew, personal, daily—to mostly save me from myself and those oh so prevalent negative thoughts or attitudes that can creep in any day or at any moment.
And I realize too: I need His Holy Spirit and power every moment to even “try” to have L.E.N.T. for one second. Instead of fear, worry, doubt, control, criticism, and more, I can be filled with the JOY of the Lord! I can have His power, His peace, and His Presence in all things. And like a beautiful wedding, I can celebrate His joy in life too: in all things.
LENT takes a risen Savior living in me. And maybe you too, if you can relate! Let Him come afresh. Let Him sing over you with His love.
I see your desire to draw near to Me and to serve Me. It pleases My heart. Draw close to My heart. Rest in Me and My Word. Let My Spirit transform you from the inside out. It’s not religious rules and observances that change you. It’s our love relationship. Let go of all the guilt, false expectations, control, and even your performance: good or bad. Rest in My love and pleasure over you. Beloved you are My delight just like a beautiful bride. And I rejoice over you with singing.
"He rejoices over you with singing..." (Zephaniah 3:17)
“Abide in Me and I will abide in you…” (John 15:4)
“On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, ‘They have no more wine.’”