Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Spirit of Lent all Year Long:

“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.  Yet not as I will, but as you will.

The Gospels give a graphic account of the agony and desperation Jesus felt as he faced going to the cross.  What must have made it incredibly difficult is that he knew everything that was going to happen (John 18:4). 

According to Matthew 26:38 he said to 3 of his closest followers, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.”  He asked them to “pray and keep watch with me”.  Then he prayed in desperation.  As Luke 22:44 says, “Being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood.”  

Talk about intense prayer.  In the Matthew account it says he prayed 3 times what is quoted above.  "Not as I will, but as You will".  How incredible.  When faced with the hardest circumstance conceivable he yielded his will to his Father and subjected himself to the worst kind of treatment imaginable—being mocked, beaten, humiliated and then crucified.  All because he loved us so deeply that he was willing to give all of himself up for our redemption.

I don’t mean to dwell on the gruesome, but during this season of Lent I am always gripped with all that Jesus was willing to do- all that was required of him- to provide my redemption.  

Fortunately, the suffering did not have the last word.  Death and the grave couldn’t hold him or keep him.  He rose victorious and triumphant over death and the grave.  All for us.  Consequently, I am delivered from the penalty I would have coming because of my sin.  Because he has overcome, so can I.  I can live victoriously and as a follower of Jesus reap the blessing of a purposeful, substantive, and meaningful life now and at the same time enjoy the hope of eternity to come.

In this season of Lent, I am amazed all over again with all that Jesus was willing to do for me—all that he was willing to give up (his very life)!  

And I am convicted with the need to give up my all for him.  I hope it’s not a cop out, but I don’t usually give up anything in particular during this time.  However. this year I have set a goal of losing 5 lbs.  It seems trivial, but it is something I need to do.  

What I really want to also do is give myself completely up for him all year.  It’s a continual struggle.  If I’m honest, too often I tend to do what I want or try to get my way.  Then I’m reminded of Jesus words, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”  (Luke 9:23)  

Thank God for his grace because I fail often.  Yet at the same time I pray continually to keep my heart submitted to him and yielded to his purpose and will.  This is my goal now and always. 

Pastor Omar Zook
Pastor Zook is the Pastor for Pastoral Care at the Evangelical Free Church of Hershey.

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