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I Give Up

February 16, 2021

“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.'” Matthew 16:24

I think it finally stopped snowing. Yesterday, I went out to shovel a few times in an attempt to stay ahead of the storm. Eventually, however, I simply gave up. Not so much out of frustration; I simply came to realize that sitting inside and watching the snow fall was going to be a more rewarding experience than shoveling. With a bit of luck, the boys will take care of the sidewalks this morning. After all, they have a snow day and I have to work!

Sometimes giving up is the right thing to do. This is hard for us. It cuts against the grain of that deeply held belief that we can do anything to which we set our minds. Perseverance is a powerful thing, and many a time I’ve encouraged my children not to quit. Don’t give up! But what if we’re doing the wrong thing? When that’s the case, perseverance is nothing to be proud of. It’s just bullheaded stubbornness.

Tomorrow we enter Lent. We are called to follow Jesus to his cross. As we go, we are called to deny ourselves. For some Christians, this is a time of giving up. Out with the chocolate, or the wine, or social media. Such practices of self-denial can be useful, especially if they lead to meaningful change that outlasts Lent. Other Christians focus on taking up something new. Perhaps this is a time of increased generosity or service to others.

Whether you take up or give up, it is appropriate to focus on the changes in our lives that can be wrought through spiritual discipline. Lent is the journey to Easter, after all. As sure as all this snow is going to melt away, we are moving from death to life. We are not meant to remain unchanged.

During Lent at Grace, you are invited to take up the work of discipleship through our Lent devotions, Habits of Grace: Justice and Mercy for Jesus’ Sake. For each day, a devotion has been prepared for our community by a member or friend of Grace. You can learn more here or download the PDF. Many thanks to Jill Peláez Baumgaertner and Julie Hinz for developing and coordinating this project, and to Gwen Gotsch for her invaluable support.

As you take up these new devotions for Lent, I’m giving up my morning slot. The Dispatch, like the newspapers I delivered as a middle schooler, is moving to afternoon publication. I’ll still blog each day (bullheaded stubbornness? I hope not) but I am looking forward to these other writers providing words for your morning devotions.

Regardless of what else you’re taking up or giving up this Lent, I hope you’ll join us in these Habits of Grace. As we deny ourselves and journey to the cross, we are reminded of the most remarkable thing of all: Jesus never gives up on us. He gives up everything, all the way into death, that we would find new life in him.

Be well, friends. You are loved.

God of grace, you call your people to confession, repentance, prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and acts of mercy. By your grace, give us the wisdom to deny ourselves. Give us the strength to follow you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Image: Me, now. The snow overtopped my boots. My socks are wet.

From → COVID-19

One Comment
  1. Irmgard Swanson permalink

    Very happy to know you will continue your daily blog, even at a different time. I look forward to them everyday.

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