I think of early, cold mornings or the first bite of bland and tasteless food that mark the beginning of a season of exercise and diet. If anything keeps me from re-engaging in weight loss or eating healthier it is this. Really, I want to lose weight and feel better but what often keeps me from doing so is the first few days. Just to get past these early mornings and bad food for a few days would reap an inevitably healthier lifestyle, likely prolonging my years in this life.
But this isn’t the only reason I avoid these things. While I dread the aches and pains and headaches that come with bettering myself, the bigger and maybe more real reason is – failure. I have tried and failed so many times to better myself. When I think back on all the times I began something without finishing it….I get a little down.
Because, I am great at starting things. But, horrible at finishing them. My strength has never been seeing it through. I feel like other people are better at that.
This attitude towards things seeps into every corner of my life. I desperately want to see something through but at this point I get really discouraged starting anything new that might better myself because of my many failures in the past.
Can you relate to this?
We all have it in our DNA to forget. At the same time the Israelites were swept up in the covenant moment of Exodus 19, eagerly accepting the invitation to become God’s people – they had the ability to totally lose their way just a few chapters later.
God knows his creation. So he gave his people ways to remember their true selves.
In the first reading this week a theology is presented to the Israelites to help them make sense of the new society they would create in the promised land. After the harvest the first thing they were to do was – sacrifice. The first-fruits of their labor were to be brought to the priest and sacrificed. When the sacrifice was offered, this prayer was to be given:
“Today I declare to the Lord your God that I have come into the land that the Lord swore to our ancestors to give us…..A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous. When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labor on us, we cried to the Lord, the God of our ancestors; the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. The Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with a terrifying display of power, and with signs and wonders; and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. So now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground that you, O Lord, have given me.” (Deut 26: 3,5-10)
With the sacrifice, the story of their identity was remembered.
When we intentionally sacrifice, a connection is made with our truer selves. Ultimately we exist because of God’s deep love. We have nothing outside of our Lord.
So as we enter a season beginning with dust and ending in life, remember that your time of sacrifice is not in vain. During Lent, we begin a journey with Jesus from death to life.
Stick with it. Don’t give up on whatever you have chosen to sacrifice during this time.