March 5 was the beginning of Lent. It marks the 40 days of reflection prior to Easter. In many churches it is celebrated with a simple evening meal on Wednesdays, followed by a time of reflection and a Scriptural devotion. During the last week prior to Easter, various church services mark the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem and his subsequent arrest, trial, crucifixion and, finally, his resurrection.
It is true that Lent is a time to reflect upon our shortcomings and to reflect upon the sacrifice that Jesus made for our salvation. However, this can be a heavily laden time if we get absorbed in our sins and forget that we are so loved that grace wins over condemnation.
When I was thinking about Lent, one of my favorite poems came to mind. It is called “The Road Less Taken,” by Robert Frost. The phrase that kept coming to my mind was “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”
When we choose to take the road less traveled, it is the road that leads to Christian living, faith in Jesus and a life that frees us from our burdens and shortcomings. It is not always an easy way of life, but it does make all the difference. Yes, we should give up bad habits, our tendency to put others down or our indifference our fellow human beings who may be different from us.
A couple of examples may help. OK, I can try to give up chocolate for Lent. But at the end of the 40 days, I can tell you right now I will go back to eating chocolate. In fact, I am not likely to give it up for Lent!
But what about some other better choice? Let’s suppose I finally admit to myself that I eat too much, or still smoke, or drink too much alcohol. These habits hurt me for sure and adversely affect those around me, like family and friends. What if I were to use Lent as the starting point of trying to conquer these or any other bad habits? With support from others and trust in the Lord, I may be able to make a good start on breaking the habit(s).
This is the positive side of sacrificial living. It ultimately benefits me and others. And it is God’s intention that we be healthy individuals, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Rather than Lent being a time to feel lousy about ourselves, we emerge feeling positive about our accomplishment and we find the pleasure of experiencing the transformation to joyful living.
It does not mean we do not still have problems; in fact, we may backslide more than once. But we do have new ways of dealing with our problems. And best of all, we are not ever alone.
Christ came to see to that.
• • •
The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then I took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.