Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday. Hard to believe it’s the end of February and Lent is already here.
Lately, I’ve found myself re-visiting the writings of Mother Teresa as well as her Patroness, St. Therese of Lisieux. I think I did the same thing last year at the beginning of Lent. It must have something to do with how these two women truly understand what self-abandonment and sacrificial love mean. They were both so in love with Jesus that they held nothing back from Him. Their lives on earth were testaments to what it means to die to one’s self-love and personal desires in order to love him and the people around them. Mother Teresa even made a vow in this regard; a vow to refuse Him nothing.
On the surface it sounds so simple. How often I’ve said I will surrender everything to God. The words are easy to speak but to live them, to abandon myself so completely that I refuse Him nothing nor resist Him in any way, that’s another thing entirely.
I want to love Him so much that I would do His will no matter the cost to my pride, my plans, my comfort, my deepest desires. But, the truth is I am weak and more often than not I wrestle with God before I finally submit to his will. I have journals full of conversations with God that reveal just how hard my flesh will fight to hold onto what it desires. Over the years I’ve learned to give up and go fewer rounds with God but sadly my selfish resistence often results in sin that comes in the form of missed opportunities to love others. These small opportunities to love are the very thing that Mother Teresa was convinced Jesus wanted most from us.
To the good God nothing is little…He stoops down and takes the trouble to make those little things for us–to give us a chance to prove our love for him…Yes my dear children, be faithful in little practices of love, of little sacrifices–of the little interior mortification–of little fidelities which build in you the life of holiness and make you Christ-like…So do not look for big things, just do small things with great love. (Mother Teresa)
As I think about Lent and the ways in which I might sacrifice during this season my spirit wants to refuse Him nothing. I want to stop wrestling with God and submit my will the first time He asks (in the big stuff and the small stuff). My flesh, however, is another story. This makes giving up dessert and Blue Moon look like a piece of cake (bad pun fully intended).
Actually, this isn’t something I would want to say lightly to God. It’s only by grace that any of us even desire to surrender and it’s only by grace that we ever choose His will over our own selfish desires. So as I begin my Lenten journey I think I’ll start by asking for grace–the grace to learn what it means to die to self for the next forty days (and the rest of my life).