Lenten Reflection for Ash Wednesday: “My Attitude”
As I begin with the thoughts of Lent for 2012 and review today’s readings, a sense of peace flows over me when I read in Hebrews 12: “since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses.” I think back to all the people in my life that have been the hands and feet of Jesus to me, and all the times I have felt God close. I smile thinking of the gentle love and guiding hands of my childhood elderly neighbor Mrs. Malach. To me, she modeled Christ’s love in her actions and words. The witnesses in my life are in many forms and persons. God has been present to me in His world, outside in both the mountains and plains. My times alone listening to His peace, and power, through the wonders of the earth are part of my cloud of witnesses. Sometimes, that cloud has been during a powerful storm.
Hebrews goes on to discuss discipline as a method to “encourage you in the way you should go,” and that when a parent loves a child they are willing to spend the effort and time teaching that child about how “they should go.” We are to be encouraged not discouraged about discipline, but recognize it is for our benefit even if it is not pleasant for a time. The identified goal of producing an abundant harvest is understandable imagery that should give us a boost of energy as we seek spring plants peaking in the chilly nights, and as we move through lent with the knowledge ‘Jesus is risen indeed.’ I think that the difference in how I see discipline is the attitude I bring to the experience. Can I see the possible end results of greater glory for God as I move through unpleasant times? Is this the spiritual maturity moving from a milk diet to a meat diet, my attitude about situations?
The reading from Luke is the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector going to worship God. To me the big difference in the two as they are in the temple is a very different attitude in how they approach the divine. Psalm 32 again speaks to me about attitude, “acknowledged my sin,” and “I will confess my transgression to the Lord,” and then the answer possibly from God “I will instruct and teach you the way you should go.” The theme of acknowledgement / attitude again reaches to me in the Psalm 143 in “thoughtful on your works and consider what your hands have done.” The thought of discipline again comes down in my mind to attitude. When I am corrected, or in a challenging situation will I look for the learning and message, or will I have a Pharisee attitude? When I look up ‘discipline’ the following major subgroups come to light; regulation (n), punishment (n), punish (v), self-control (n), instruct (v), subject (n). How do I view this ‘discipline’ and the antonym ‘chaos’ in my life as related to the love of God?
With the questions in my mind regarding my attitude in different situations, I then read the appointed Old Testament reading of Jonah. I do not understand Jonah’s attitude about Nineveh. Why was he mad about them repenting and turning to God? Was that not what he had been preaching? Did he think he was such a bad speaker that he could not convince them of the error in their current way of living? Was he jealous that God cared for these people? My mind returns to the questions of my personal perspective and outlook. How do I approach the tasks that I have been given from God? Am I utilizing the gifts He has provided? Where do I place myself as judge? I will work especially this Lenten season to be aware of my own viewpoint, and try to be open to the discipline of God that shows me how I need to go to do His will. Christ shows me the way, He is my example. Come Lord Jesus, lead my heart and mind to do God’s will.
Author: Becky Snell