How do we know that we are living a life that Christ wants us to live? This has to be a burning for most if not all Christians. If our life goal is to please God to be Christ like, than what is our gauge, how do we know we are achieving what we set out to achieve?
Over the years I have come back to this question:
“How do I know that what I am doing is pleasing God?”
“How do I know that this is the path the Lord wants me to walk?”
“How do I know I am being the man I am called to be?”
I wish I could tell you that I know the answers to all the questions, but in truth I do not, I still have the questions, but no answers. But I feel that they are still questions that need to be examined. We must, from time to time, stop and take stock in our faith.
Lent offers us such a time, Lent is a time to stop and take stock in your faith. The Church in her wisdom gives us 40 days to reflect and to deepen our faith. We are offered a time to reflect deeply on the inner faith we have, to look at our souls and to nourish it with Prayer, Fasting and Alms giving. But how does a deeper prayer live, fasting and alums giving help to answer the questions raised above?
As Christians we believe that we must suffer” here on earth that we must “Carry our Cross”. Lent offers us a time to remember that command and to live it with a deeper understanding or should I say to live it in a deeper understanding.
God in His wisdom knows that we are human and of fallen nature, that we will take the easy road when we can, so Lent offers us a yearly reminder that the life of a Christian is not an easy one, that we are called to many task that will force us outside of our box, stretching our comfort zone to the maximum and creating in us a new being. We are to be “reborn” in to our faith, we are called to die daily on the cross and to be resurrected daily in the Lord. The path of a Christian is not an easy path, it is one filled with trials that will test your resolve until you are forever in His glory. The life of a Christian is not the “easy” life; in fact some may argue that it is not even the “good” life, according to the world’s view of a good life. But it is the life that we choose to walk.
Lent and her three children, Prayer, Fasting and Alms Giving are gifts from God, to help us remain on the path of glory. Each of the children of Lent offers us a gift from God but they also offer us a key to the answers we seek.
Prayer is conversing with God, to have an open discussion with your Father. Lent offers us a time to deepen that prayer life, to reestablish that connection that may have been lost over the past year. The gift of prayer is the key to understanding the will of God. It is through prayer that we gain wisdom from the Holy Spirit and obtain a oneness that is only possible with a father and his child.
Fasting is sharing in the Lords suffering it allows us, in a small way, to be with the Lord in the desert for 40 days, to hang on the Cross with Him and to feel the Whip of hatred on our own skin. We are not out for the pain f it, but rather we are in it for the love of it. We suffer not for suffering sake but rather for the sake of those who are suffering. Jesus offered up His suffering for our sins, we too are called to offer up our sufferings for the world. The gift of Fasting is the key to compassion. It is through fasting that we gain the compassion of our Lord, through our fasting, our simple sufferings here on earth we, in our small way, take part in the passion of our Lord.
Alms Giving grants the ability to heal the sick and care for the poor, alms giving is our way of sharing in the miracles of the Lord. Through our gifts we are able to cure the broken hearted and free the prisoners. Alms Giving is not just the gift of money, but rather it is the gift of self to be in service of others. Jesus’ greatest miracles were not walking on water or raising the dead, His greatest miracles were caring for the forgotten. When we give Alms we are giving of ourselves, we are taking part in the miracle of love. Jesus gave freely of himself to others; he comforted the lonely and had compassion for the sick. He talked to the social outcast and broke bread with the sinners. His Alms was himself. We are called to be as Jesus, the gift of Alums Giving is the key of love. It is through Alums Giving that we are united in the works of our Lord, we through our giving, take part in the raising of the dead and the healing of the sick. By our giving we feed the multitudes and love the loveless.
Lent offers us an opportunity to examine our Christ-likeness, the acts of Prayer, Fasting and Alms Giving affords us the opportunity to share in the wondrous works of our Lord.