Let’s all gather in the locker room for a pep talk.

We’re about halfway through Lent, and I don’t know about you, but I sure could use some motivation. Why am I doing this again? I need a reminder about Who is really in charge of this game.

Those Lenten penances we committed to on Ash Wednesday, as we were filled with zeal and overwhelmed with love for Christ, are now starting to become a little tedious. Does it really mean I don’t love Jesus if I drink that glass of wine? Don’t laugh – I have actually asked myself that question, more than once this week.

I’m not an ascetic, and I’m not overly scrupulous either. I know that Lenten penances we choose for ourselves are meant to take our eyes of ourselves and refocus them on Jesus. They are not magic. If I drink a glass of wine, my relationship with Jesus will not be permanently tarnished. When framed that way, I have to say I’m having a pretty fruitful season, when you consider the many times I’ve wanted a glass a wine and told myself I was not going to have it. (Because I love Jesus more than I love wine; this tiny abstention is all symbolic of that.)

I’ve found myself thinking about my relationship with Jesus a lot, and that is always a good thing. What is not such a good thing is I’m starting to feel bored and am wondering if I even have an inkling of what Lent is really for. So I’m recalling this: it’s about a relationship, and paying attention to it.

Self-chosen penances can certainly be helpful tools, but I’m discovering this Lent that the ones that are presented to us without our consent are much more compelling. I forget this every year. I can give up wine or commit to being nicer to my family, but the real growth comes when I tune into the out-of-my-control crosses that are falling full-force across my wine-less path. If I go without some treat, but don’t handle these sufferings gracefully, I’m not doing much good in the relationship with Jesus department.

I’ve been given several great challenges this Lent, none involving vino. Today I’m taking this halftime buzzer as a reminder that I shouldn’t worry too much about those penances I’ve chosen, and give all my best to the ones God has selected for me. Thinking about it this way might give me the stamina I need for the next few weeks.

He knows my heart – better than I do, in fact. He knows the areas I am hiding from the world, and from myself. He knows where I need to be pushed a bit, where I need to be taught to hold back. He wants to give me the very best spiritual workout possible, and if I stay in the game, trusting The Coach, there will be a super after-party awaiting me.

And at that party, my wine glass will be full. 🙂

Now, it’s time to get back out there and play like we mean it. There’s still a lot of work to be done before the season is through. Let’s make it happen! On three: GO SAINTS!


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