by Dan McNerney, Associate Director
Most people do not want to be accused of “losing it.” Losing our tempers, our minds or losing control are not good things for most of us. Yet, Jesus asks us to lose it all, everything—to draw closer to Him, His Father and the Holy Spirit. He implores us to lose our lives to gain our lives. The Lenten season—which began on Wednesday, March 2—is designed for these very purposes. During the 40 days before Easter, we are to exercise the muscles of letting go, giving up and losing control to be born anew in Jesus’ resurrection power. It is a time to pause, slow down and accumulate less. Perhaps we already have more than we need, and we just don’t know it.
Towards the end of His ministry, Jesus told His disciples that He would soon enter Jerusalem and be rejected by the elders, leading priests and teachers of religious law. He also said that He would be killed—but would rise after three days. In response, His disciples objected emphatically in protest. Jesus’ reply taught them one of the most important lessons they had ever heard; a lesson that has become the heart of the Lenten experience for us today. With fresh ears, let’s tune in and listen to what Jesus told Peter and the other disciples, as recorded in the Gospel of Mark:
“But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life?” —Mark 8:33-37 (NRSV)
Every person on earth is faced with the same pressing question: “Who is in control of my life—God or myself?” It is a battle. Why are we so reluctant to give up control and allow God to guide, protect and nurture our lives? Do we really think we can do a better job with our lives compared to what God can do with them? It is a leap of faith to turn over our lives to God, absolutely. But when we relinquish control, we find endless purpose, peace, wisdom, joy, compassion and eternal life. In giving away our lives to Jesus, we gain life everlasting. What a holy paradox.
This paradox isn’t as simple as it reads, however. It is a good practice to regularly ask yourself questions like:
What am I accumulating? Do I have too much, or feel a desire to have even more? Am I seeking to be greater in wealth or status than those around me? Am I seeking to build an empire of accomplishments?
Lent is the perfect time to give up our runaway ambitions. It is a season designed to prepare us for Christ’s death and ultimate resurrection—shedding anything that keeps us from Him. As we reflect on the upcoming Easter celebration, allow yourself to hand control over to God—gaining infinitely more than you will lose.
Lent offers a time of planting seeds for the future. Join us—and the Holy Spirit—in scattering seeds through intercession. Pray for a great harvest of redemption, when many people on the frontier will come to faith in Jesus. Join our prayer team or download our frontier prayer resources at frontierfellowship.com/pray