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Lenten Reflections: Day 23

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Photo by Flickr user Sooraj Shajahan

On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays during Lent, we offer reflections from Bread staff and others who faithfully work to end hunger.

Lectionary readings (from the Revised Common Lectionary):

Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22
Daniel 12:5-13
Ephesians 1:7-14

It’s painfully refreshing to remember how in need of God we are. When we splash cold water on our faces, at first it’s jolting and a bit uncomfortable. But after the initial shock, we are awakened and energized. When life reminds me of my weakness and selfishness, the first moments hurt. I am disillusioned. I am discouraged. I am frustrated with myself and with God.

And then, by God’s grace, I am awakened to the reality that I cannot get it right on my own. I cannot even obey the simple commands to love God with all that I am and to love my neighbor as myself. We hear Jesus’ words, “Apart from me, you can do nothing.” Sunbeams of truth begin to break through the fog of disillusionment. We hear him say to us as he said to the disciples in the boat, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” Throwing the dead weight of discouragement overboard, we jump. Grumblings of frustration are drowned out by shouts of thanksgiving and praise.

Today’s reading says, “We have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses.” I did not — and cannot — buy my way back to God. Not by being strong and selfless. Not by following all the rules and getting it right. Not with my riches, but with “the riches of God’s grace.” By that amazing grace the debt has been paid, and we can return home.

But not only that: I continue to learn that I cannot keep myself “on God’s good side” by doing things right, either. Earthly parents may treat their children this way, and I know I do at times. But our heavenly parent is different.

I need God every step of the way. These reminders are painful for a moment. But the pain jolts me back to my senses … and back to life.

Zach-schmidtZach Schmidt is central midwest regional organizer with Bread for the World.

 

 

+Read all of our Lent reflections.

 

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