During the season of Lent I find myself reflecting quite a bit on the cross of Christ and on the great sacrifice that he was willing to make for all of humanity. I know I’m not the only one who does this, but the more I contemplate the meaning of our Lord’s sacrifice, the more inspired I am to do something that might draw me closer to him. Eventually this led me to a decision of giving up alcohol and sweets until Easter, and it has been the thoughts of Jesus’ suffering through his trial and crucifixion that have kept me from giving into temptation. Thinking about the tragic events that led to his arrest, the beatings that took place, and even the emotional turmoil that Jesus must have experienced when one of his own betrayed him, and when his disciples abandoned him, has motivated me to keep going.
By observing the spiritual practice of fasting (avoiding 2 things that I enjoy) I have learned that sometimes it is the sacrifices that we make that can help bring us closer to God. I have also discovered that as I am drawn closer to God, and my relationship with him becomes deeper and more personal, I can let go of other things that I think I may need to enjoy life more fully. After all, things like money, possessions, alcohol, desserts, movies, television shows can only satisfy us or fill us with purpose for a short amount of time. Eventually we run out of cash, we get a stomach ache from all that sugar we consumed, we get bored of a certain TV program, and then we have to find something else to fill the void.
While reading a recent Lenten devotional I came across a passage from scripture that I think can help address this issue. After healing a man that had been born blind, and after dealing with the Pharisees, who investigate the incident appearing to be blind themselves to who Jesus is, our Lord begins to talk to his disciples and the crowd with them about who he is and why he was sent to them. He informs them that he is the Good Shepherd and that his sheep will follow him and that they know him (or will know him) by his voice. He goes on to mention that he is the gate that the sheep may enter into in order to be saved and then he declares in John 10:10, “I came that they have life, and have it abundantly!”
So have you found this saying of Jesus to be true in your life? Have you found an abundant life through the faith that God has so graciously given to you? Has the sacrifice that our Lord made for you on the cross helped you to understand the deep and unconditional love that our creator has for you? These are all good questions for us to ponder as we celebrate on Easter Sunday! When we hear the words, “He has risen,” on that special day, and we respond, “he has risen indeed,” perhaps we too will remember that in the Resurrection of Christ we have all been given a new kind of life! An abundant life where we don’t have to worry about sin or death, because Jesus has defeated them both!