Mar 05, 2021 | By the Rev. Brad Leight, Pastor of St. John's Ivyland UMC

A pastor’s Lenten reflection for challenging times

As the return of sunny days and moderating temperatures slowly yet surely melt away our piles of snow, we can see that spring is finally on its way. I sense this winter was a bit of a reality check for us; after relatively little snowfall for a few years, we were reminded how much “fun” consecutive snowstorms can be. Still, our inconveniences pale in comparison to the disaster and suffering experienced by our neighbors in the south this past February.

I still find it hard to process the magnitude of suffering experienced by so many in Texas during the recent deep freeze. Images of waterfalls in living rooms due to burst pipes, miles-long lines of cars waiting for a case of bottled water, and families burning furniture and wooden toys to stay warm defy comprehension. The fallout and investigation into who is responsible is already underway, with plenty of finger-pointing and excuses quickly following. We can only hope that meaningful changes will occur that will drastically limit the probability of a repeat disaster… yet I am skeptical. Why? One of the major issues identified so far was the lack of winterization measures taken by utility providers to prepare for extreme temperatures, despite narrowly escaping similar disasters during cold snaps in 2011 and 2014. The investment required for these measures was deemed too costly given the relatively low probability of prolonged cold temperatures. Too costly – until there is a disaster!

While it seems easy to shake our heads at the messy situation in Texas, I have to wonder if we aren’t prone to taking a similar approach in our relationship with God. Sure, we know we should invest daily time in prayer and reading scripture; yet that requires us to intentionally set aside time for those activities. With an ever-increasing task list and few free moments, that investment can appear costly when we seem to be doing OK on our own. Before we know it, God gets squeezed out.

People of faith know that difficulties will come our way. I believe that’s why cultivating a deep, ongoing relationship with God is essential. Investing daily time in prayer and reflection helps strengthen and prepare us for the challenging times that will come. Yes, we’ll still experience setbacks. Yet the steadfast faith and deep relationship we cultivate with our Lord will help us navigate the storms of life with much less damage, like appropriate maintenance enables equipment and systems to hold up under extreme duress.

If you sense that your spiritual life isn’t quite where it should be, Lent is the perfect time to re-engage with God. It’s fine to start small: commit to 10-15 minutes each day, reading a devotion and concluding in prayer. Before long, you’ll be surprised how that time lengthens. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day; simply start back up the next. And, above all, know that every moment you set aside for God is cherished by your Lord!

Grace and Peace,
Pastor Brad