Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Receive the gift, let go


"The Gift of Tomorrow"

If we could have a second chance to live the days once more, and rectify mistakes we've made to even up the score.

If we could have a second chance to use the knowledge gained, perhaps we might become at last as fine as God ordained.

But though we can't retrace our steps, however stands the score, tomorrow brings another chance for us to try once more.

-Hilda Butler Farr

By Bishop Robert E. Hayes Jr.

All too often, people associate Lent with giving up some trivial pleasures for a short time and making some simplistic commitments. That season of the Church year is again upon us, and I urge each of you to journey more deeply with God through this time leading up to Easter.

The reason for my plea is that I see many people without a clue of what "sacrificial Lent" truly means.

He gave up his life to take upon himself your sins. That knowledge should give you pause when you forgo the cheese on your double hamburger or carbonated soda.

In its simplest form, Lent means God has given you the gift of tomorrow. The mistakes from yesterday are gone.

The apostle Paul, writing to the church in Philippi, reminded the congregation that his one goal in life was to forget his past and press on toward the future and the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Paul wrote, "This one thing I do" is more important than anything else. If you are to make your journey of Lent meaningful and special, you, too, must be willing to seize the gift of tomorrow by letting go. You, too, must leave behind those things that weigh you down and hinder you from doing God's will.

Like an attic closet, the mind can become encumbered with useless leftovers, with the debris of yesterday. You must realize some things should be discarded-and others reinvested with life and spirit.

Why are people so afraid to "let go" and "let God" have full sway in their lives? Is it because they are afraid of what friends might say? Or are they fearful that, indeed, they really will change?

There is a story told about a British ship, a naval destroyer, docked at a harbor in the West Indies. Five other ships, of various nationalities, also were anchored there. A sudden, furious storm descended, with a wild, terrifying wind and great waves sweeping into the harbor.

The British captain weighed anchor, and the ship steamed straight out to sea, into the very teeth of the storm.

Two days later, the vessel returned, battered but safe. The other ships had remained in the harbor, and the storm had piled them atop one another, hopelessly wrecked, upon the shore. Their crews' refusal to face the seas and storm-their clinging to apparent security-had been their undoing.

Only the ship that ventured everything came through the storm.


Let's go with God

God quietly asks you to go with Him into the great mystery called tomorrow.

God asks you to risk your security, to make yourself vulnerable, and to place your total trust in God's hands.

The only compass and guide you need will be supplied by God, and your only provision must be your faith! It is in faith that God wants you to grow as you move through the Lenten season, knowing your journey will end with your sins nailed to a cross and your soul resurrected to a fuller life.

I am determined to use these 40 days to rectify mistakes I've made, rather than symbolically give up something insignificant in my relationship to God.

This Lenten season, I'm asking God to:

n Give me a stronger faith, so that when dark clouds of adversity and fear come, God will take me from weakness to strength.

n Give me a deeper conviction to serve others, especially the least, the lonely, and the lost.

n Root myself in God and God's love so deeply that I will not be afraid of life, death, or any calamity the world can heap upon me.

Ultimately, I desire to leave behind the old Bob Hayes and grab hold of tomorrow with this chance I've been given.

What will you ask of God throughout these 40 days? A better prayer life? A clean and pure heart? Another chance?

Let's leave behind the elementary practices of Lent and move into tomorrow, a place brimming with hope and bright promises.


Making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World

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