Thursday after Ash Wednesday
Today’s readings show us the type of life we can expect to live if we place our trust in God’s providence. In Deuteronomy we read the original life-or-death question from Moses: Follow God to life and prosperity, or do it yourself and face certain death. With a choice so plain, it’s surprising that anyone would choose not to follow the Lord. Yet so many people do not follow. Why?
We hear hints of the answer in Deuteronomy, and also in today’s Psalm. If the people rebel, they ‘will not live long in the land.’ ‘Not long,’ but they also won’t receive an immediate eviction notice. We hear in the Psalm that the one who follows God will be like a tree that bears its fruit in due season. The consequences, good and bad alike, take time to arrive. Our Lord does not slap us upside the head right away when we choose incorrectly. Unfortunately, this gives us time to question whether the circumstances of our lives have anything at all to do with God’s grace.
Jesus develops the idea more clearly in today’s gospel. He warns his disciples that if they want to follow him, they need to set aside everything and be ready to suffer, with a promise that doing otherwise will certainly lead to a true death of losing oneself. Self-denial leads to true life. Dying little deaths leads to a resurrection life. Sacrifice bears fruit, in time.
This Lent, do we have the fortitude to stick with it? Can we turn back to the Lord and truly repent of our sins? Can we see with new eyes how we have failed, and trust fully that God will raise us above our brokenness? The way to Christ is not quick or easy. But it is life! Nothing else is more full, more blessed, more satisfying. The wicked, lukewarm path will ultimately lead to death. Let us pray in this season of repentance for the patience and fortitude to continue to follow Jesus to the cross and beyond. Amen!
- Chris Nieport