Once, a troubled teenager tried to trick an elderly rabbi known for his wisdom. The boy asked, “I have a bird in my hand…is it alive? Or is it dead?” If the rabbi said “Alive,” the boy planned to crush it. However, If the rabbi said “Dead” he would open his hand and let the bird fly away. Either way, he would prove the wise rabbi was not wise at all. So, he was startled by the rabbi’s response, “The answer, alive or dead, is in your power and in your hands. It is what you will.”
The season of Lent, which begins on Wednesday, is a time to look seriously at our lives and how we use the power that is in our hands. Is it . . . . for good or for ill. God has given us the power to choose to use our lives in ways that are life-giving or to waste them through destructive actions. Daily we make those choices through our habits, our attitudes, our relationships and our use of time. Often, we don’t consider just what it is that we are doing. But choices are ours to make.
We can continue in destructive patterns, and self-defeating actions or we can make positive changes in our lives. We can ask for the help we need. We can go back to school and educate ourselves. We can get counseling for ourselves or a troubled child. We can deal with our illnesses. We can end destructive relationships. We can stop abusing alcohol, drugs and other people. We can treat everyone with kindness and respect. We can choose the path of goodness. We can reach out in love to those around us. We can draw nearer to God. We can experience the comfort and peace of God. We can accept God’s forgiveness and mercy. We can let go of yesterday’s destructiveness and move into tomorrow’s promise.
Lent, the six-week period that begins on Ash Wednesday and continues till Easter, offers us the opportunity to reflect, to grow, to ask the questions about our lives that we can too easily put off. Whatever those difficult questions may be, we have this assurance that God is with us. There is nothing that can separate us from God’s love. Not a troubled child, or an ugly divorce, a business that fails, or our personal failure. God wants for all of us to experience abundance of life which comes in our putting ourselves in the hands of God, then allowing God to lead us. Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) May your Lenten Journey draw you more fully into that abundant and life-giving power of Christ.
*A version of this post was published as “Life with Abundance” on February 16, 2015