I am doing God a favor, or so I thought…
The Coptic Orthodox Church follows an annual calendar, culminating in Easter, celebrating the Resurrection of our Lord and our resulting salvation. While I do not like to play favorites, Lent (the 55 days preceding Easter) is my favorite time of year. Lent, especially the last 7 days of Holy Week, is like a spiritual energizing tonic, a sort of a Spiritual enhancement program.
I look forward to these 55 days to carry me through the rest of the year. While I should be focusing on my Spiritual life every single day of the year, my brain actually makes that shift during those 55 days. I consecrate special time to read the Bible every day, my prayers are more focused, my priorities are heavenly and not worldly.
Holy Week is, by far, the best 7 days of the year, starting with Palm Sunday. There is a rhythm to Holy Week that makes it unique: the nightly vigil at Church where we read the Prophecies regarding the coming of Christ, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection. The chanting of “Thine is the Power, the glory, the blessing, and the majesty forever amen,” and listening to edifying sermons after 2 hours steeped in prayers.
Holy Week is when I spend even more time reading the Bible. I am barely available on social media. I ignore the news alerts that flash on my phone. I am immersed in commentaries on the Bible, I have an insatiable thirst to learn more, to read more, to focus on Heaven.
And then, Holy Week came to an end, Easter was celebrated, and my spiritual regimen took a significant nosedive.
Suddenly, I no longer felt the urgency to read the Bible first thing in the morning.
Suddenly, my prayers became garbled and hurried.
Suddenly, my priorities became more worldly, again.
Worst of all, I did not feel guilty…
I felt like my past “efforts” during the 55 days of Lent more than made up for my current laziness.
As if I had been doing God a favor over the previous 55 days and He should be “content” with my efforts and the hours I had spent at church.
This way of thinking can only lead to further spiritual laziness. More dangerously, it is based on complete and utter nonsense. Does God need our prayers?
When I pray, do I feel like I am doing God a favor?
When I attend liturgy, do I feel like I am doing God a favor?
When I fast, do I feel like I am doing God a favor?
News flash – I am not doing God a favor.
God does not need me. I need HIM.
God does not need my worship time. I need His Fatherhood.
God does not need me to eat beans instead of meat. I need to tame and subdue the hold my body has on my soul.
God does not need me to attend Liturgy. I need to partake of the Holy Communion.
God does not need me, PERIOD. God longs for me. And that is a huge difference.
So, how do we ensure that we sustain our spiritual regimen after Lent?
- Treat every day as though it were our last day on earth.
- Prioritize reading the Bible.
- Praying time is non -negotiable.
- Repeat this mantra: we need God; He wants us but does not need us.
- Ease back into the same regimen practiced during Lent, pretend that Lent has restarted.
With that in mind, I leave you with the following quotes about Spiritual growth:
“Becoming like Christ is a long, slow process of growth.” – Rick Warren
“It is not the number of books you read, nor the variety of sermons you hear, nor the amount of religious conversation in which you mix, but it is the frequency and earnestness with which you meditate on these things till the truth in them becomes your own and part of your being, that ensures your growth.” – Frederick W. Robertson
“All growth that is not toward God is growing to decay.” – George Macdonald
“If a man does not exercise his arm he develops no biceps muscle; and if a man does not exercise his soul, he acquires no muscle in his soul, no strength of character, no vigor of moral fiber, nor beauty of Spiritual growth.”- Henry Drummond
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