The First Sunday of Lent … Sunday, February 17

Original image description from the Deutsche F...

Triumph is sure. But until then it ain’t over til it’s over. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In today’s Gospel reading, Luke 4:1-13, we see Jesus forty days fasting in the desert and then tempted by Satan. “When the devil had finished every temptation,
he departed from him for a time.” And its this, Satan tempting and then leaving, that I want to dwell on for a few minutes.

Have you ever wrestled with a temptation, or a personality defect, some inner flaw? Have you ever mastered it? Really? I smoked for years. I decided to stop and I did. For nine years I didn’t smoke. Then one day, just because it was there and because I felt justified in celebrating at the time, I picked up a cigar. Just one, and a small one at that. Of course that’s all it took, just one. I’ve noticed other things too, attitudes I thought I’d grown past, ideas I thought I’d left behind, etc. pop up again at the most unexpected moments. Which has made me wonder if these things are ever truly overcome. My personal answer, seriously, is that short of a real miracle the answer is no they aren’t. They are at best kept at bay by constant effort and vigilance.

“For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.” Ephesians 6:12.

Satan left Jesus for a time. “For a time.” Why should I expect anything else? Once the enemy sees a weak spot he may hold off for a while but not forever. Leaving us alone for a time can actually work in Satan’s favor. We gain self-confidence instead of God-confidence. We rest on our laurels. We get caught off guard.

So what do we do? Live in fear? Dread the future because we know whats coming? No, none of those. We do what Jesus did. We go about our Father’s business, keeping our focus on His strength while acknowledging our own weakness. Proper perspective and a right ordering of things. It’s not complicated but it can be hard to keep sight of because we are so easily distracted. So how do we maintain our focus? How do we look to God and not to self? Again, we follow the example Jesus gives us. During those forty days in the desert He prayed and fasted. This maintains the focus needed.

Welcome to Lent. Forty days to practice all of the above. Forty days to fine tune our focus. Forty days to get ready for the next 325. Then, after the 325 days following Lent, well, another Lent and more practice. Always practice. Because the enemy that left is guaranteed to be back. We’ll get to rest in Eternity. Now its warfare. Once again, welcome to Lent.

Published in: on February 17, 2013 at 4:40 am  Comments Off on The First Sunday of Lent … Sunday, February 17  
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