I am weary. God has given me the key. He gave it to me a very long time ago, delivered by the worn old hands of Moses, and engraved into a tablet of stone. His fourth commandment to the people of Israel read: “Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.” Rest.
You made me somethin' You gave me life The freedom found in You goes on and on and on
All that we can do is watch while the saga unfolds as our own death looms like a guillotine suspended somewhere in the sky over our heads. We walk about full knowing that the cordage to that cleaver may very well break loose at any moment. We are powerless to stop its plummet. We cannot even slow its descent. When it’s time, it’s time, be it grimace or grin beneath the blow.
Our spiritual efforts are attempts to reach a more and more passive position so that God can work through us. He cultivates in us a reflex towards virtue, which equips us for warfare against the world, the flesh, and the devil. Done well—prayerfully and with prudence—fasting freshens the spirit for the fight.
Without a child’s heart, loving and trusting our Father would be extremely difficult, maybe even impossible, but without an adult mind, we cannot work alongside our brother Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
I firmly believe that life is best lived slowly and deliberately, like thoroughly chewing and tasting a meal bite by bite instead of simply stuffing yourself as quickly as possible. You can certainly see an awful lot of the world at sixty miles per hour, but you can only truly live where you are present, which is to say, where you’re rooted by your feet.
Modern life tries to avoid death by an alchemical process of staying young forever and exalting in youthful novelty. It’s not always the individual activities but the avoidance of a big fact: we need to grow up and death is inescapable!
What Jesus is actually saying is that just like a grain of wheat must “die” so it can produce fruit, i.e. produce more grain, there’s also a type of dying we must experience as followers of Christ. When we die to our flesh, or what can be termed the false self or the old person in us, then we can experience eternal life.
Jesus has been gently inviting me again and again into this place where hope and despair collide and each time is met with greater mystery yet greater peace. The more I engage in that space with Him, the stronger the bookends grow.
In seasons of daily self-denial it is enough to pray for your children and ask the Lord for his breath of life through the day. Parenthood is a years-long season of saying “no” to yourself, and it is okay, during Lent, to embrace a season of saying “yes”.