Ash Wednesday is on the 26th of this month. As Lent approaches, I’ve been wondering what my sacrifice will be. It needs to be more than symbolic, more than just giving up chocolate or adding an additional five minutes for prayer. It needs to be a sacrifice that brings about change.
The Lord has already presented me with this year’s challenge: to come to grips, once and for all, with something that has plagued me all of my adult life. The healing can only come if I am willing to take it to the wilderness and face my fear. The challenge? To trust that God will provide so that I will give away my money freely.
Money is a thorn in my side. Neither my husband nor I are skilled with managing it. Although I am terrible with math, I take care of the checkbook. It seems like we are always in debt and often cash poor. Making money has never been a priority. This is all well and good until we come up short.
I have many scars to show over my lifetime wrangle with money which makes it hard to give away. Healing must take place in order to overcome my shortcoming; ironically that healing cannot happen without sacrifice. I must, with God’s help, allocate more money to almsgiving. I must learn to trust that He will continue to provide even if the balance in my checkbook tells me that I don’t have enough to give.
I think of the widow’s mite, how she gave two coins to the Temple. It was all she had. She gave it all away knowing her own coffer would be empty. She trusted in God to provide.
I recently wrote a story for this newspaper about people of little means giving generously to the Legacy of Hope campaign. One such woman was very poor. She won $1000 at her parish’s bazaar, and rather than put it towards her own very real needs, she gave it all to Legacy of Hope. That is trust! Could I have done that if I had won the money? Without God’s healing, not likely.
Although I am full of dread, dealing with my lack of charity, I know I must make good on my promise to God. I can no longer use the excuse that I give of my time. While this is good to do, I have used it to justify my lack of almsgiving. Healing cannot come without sacrifice. And sacrifice demands trust. Do I have the faith to trust that God will provide? Do I believe he will heal me?
I think about the ultimate sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. He endured mocking, torture, and death on the cross — the one and only sacrifice to assure forgiveness of our sins if we but believe and accept him. Jesus was God. But Jesus was also human. The pain he experienced was real. It tested his faith but he persevered because he knew the sacrifice of his life would bring healing to the world.
Lent is a wonderful reminder of the deeper meaning of sacrifice. It reminds me of the faith it takes to be a sacrificial giver. It requires letting go of fear and allowing healing to begin. Reflecting with thanksgiving on the infinite number of times that God has provided will supply the strength I need.
Developing a habit of sacrificial giving is my goal for Lent — my prayer is that such a habit will continue long after Lent is over.
Copyright 2020 Susan Bailey