Everyone is giving things up and I’m stuck
on 40 days. Another 40 days–
Noah bobbing in a flood;
Moses too too long on a clouded mountain;
Goliath getting his great big self up each day
and taunting Israel;
Jesus saying no to tantalizing offers.
Yep, and 40 days of Lent.
The symbol of testing.
For most people I know it’s
You know the drill…
an exercise in self-control.
Time elongates inexorably for me
with the hope of yielding up
into a transparent soul before God.
out of this sacrificial,
seemingly reverential act,
I watch myself proudly generate
some kind of proof of my love to God.
My sacrifice swings the world around
into brand new focus:
ME quietly and constantly
summing up how well I’VE done at this.
And if you must know,
this is an expectation,
an assumption of garnering
some kind of pleasure from God.
Call it me getting brownie points
for not eating one.
I know this feels critical.
I’ve made the 40 day prep
for Resurrection Day
ALL ABOUT ME.
Salvation is not earned.
well it’s like humility:
as soon as you think of it
you’re not doing it.
So I am honestly asking the question:
How does one retire the will, the self,
into the hands of the Lord
in genuine selflessness
even for one day?
Not my will but Thy will be done.
HOW DO YOU GIVE YOUR WILL TO GOD?
Is there a way to not think so much about me
for 1 or 2 or 40 days?
Oh please share the parts of your journey that have made your face shine
Please leave your thoughts in the comments!
Craig and Bethany says
So many good comments.
And such an interesting question.
Genuine selflessness for even one day. I think of CS Lewis remarking the same sentiment that selflessness necessarily focuses on self, but love necessarily focuses on the object of affection. Love results in selflessness without ever seeking it. I find this most easily in worship, adoration reorienting the self. My insecurities and pride fall behind me like a shadow, and I begin to think rightly and be rightly and do rightly in response to his glory. I think in reading, and meditating on, and believing God‘s promises, I lay down the tyranny of self. Each one is an audacious claim, outrageous. Each day I learn to believe them a little more.
Susan Cowger says
Laurie, I love how you go ahead and make the turn from yourself there at the end! Isn't that it?! Our days will be filled with turning away from self, free falling again and again back into the arms of Grace, no doubt. Thank you for boldly being the example!
I hear a call to exhale, to relax backward into unseen, waiting arms like a blind-folded person does during those annoying team-building exercises that Visiting Experts make co-workers attempt. Except this isn't about solving problems or keeping one's job or status or being seen as a good sport, or even going first, to set an example. More like offering the bare ounce of nerve and/or trust you can muster to the-Grace-you-hope-will-appear-in-the-actual-moment. In short, committing. So viewing Lent as the latest springboard, will I give more than a nod to this stark invitation to re-aim my startled attention starting now, oh, especially NOW, as I "publish" this comment? God keep me honest and may it be so, again and again, even if only by degrees, for as long as Love's ongoing free fall beckons . . .
Susan Cowger says
Jenn that is so true. It seems like the root of striving is a kind of self-centeredness. Oh to swing the camera around and take the focus off me as many times as necessary over 40 days, 40 yrs, a lifetime!
I wonder if we could simply give up our striving. What if lent was not about trying harder, but simply abandoning our efforts, and fixing our attention on the One who is both the author and perfector of our faith? Ironic that ceasing striving could become an effort in an of itself.
Susan Cowger says
FYI Goat and Wooden Woman are both me, Susan. Can I make if any more confusing to people? Working on it. Apparently my phone thinks I am Goat and my computer thinks I'm Wooden Woman.
Susan Cowger says
Oh that "feeling a little guilty" thing gets us with a little stab, doesn't it? Your last sentence is full of submission to the will of God, doing what you know is good and right. A simple and perfect step forward. A heart after God's heart.
Such good questions! I was feeling a little guilty that I'm not giving anything up for lent. However, I'm dedicated (however, I've missed a few days) to prayer, using the Seek God For the City guide. Ahhh, Father, have Your way with us!
Wow. How many ways to say YES. Nailed it—recognizing the difference between self control and submission. The clarity is refreshing. Pass the grit.
Pig Woman says
Can't say I ever really got the 40 day thing but is it cheating to just pray, mold my will to be the same as Yours? And then wait and see how you turn out? Well, not just for the 40 days but with a 40 day kickoff? Does it have to be hard, the more torturous the better? Or is the ultimate submission enough leaving the hard part to God? Not by my might but by His. I guess I can't see God caring about a brownie or watching people practice self-control when self-control is kinda what we need to give up to to submit to His will. I get the picture in my mind of the optical illusion of the upstairs that turn into downstairs when I think about the difference between submission and self-control but it is different. Self-control is a fight with self, your eye being continually on self. Submission your eye is on God, His will. The first tortuous, the later, more just a gift.