If I fail during Lent, I always hope it’s in whatever I gave up, not in what I took on.
Because I try to do both. I try to make some type of daily sacrifice, fast from something. But I also strive toward some type of discipline – mental, physical, emotional.
I try to become more intentional about things. Especially with strangers.
I am guilty of not being intentional in my personal life with people I love. I take them for granted more than I care to admit.
But I also tend to ignore strangers.
And I can’t think of anything less Christlike.
It seems as though Jesus never met a stranger. That’s easy to do when you’re God and you know everybody, I suppose, but all the more reason the example of Christ is so poignant and remarkable. He made time for strangers.
And time is not a commodity that I have a lot of anymore.
So where I fail with time, I try to make up with other means of blessing.
I’m a big proponent of not announcing one’s good deeds, but I want to give you an example of how simple it is to bless someone else.
While on vacation last week, we ordered pizza for supper one evening. When it arrived, I tipped the driver.
And, the thing is, it was more than typical but it wasn’t a huge amount.
He thanked me and left.
A few minutes later, he knocked on the door and double checked that I meant to give him the amount I gave him.
I assured him that I did.
And he broke out into this huge grin and thanked me profusely and even gave me a hug.
And that moment has stayed with me for a week.
It didn’t cost me much to bless that man. But that’s not even the point.
The point is, I need to make a habit of going beyond the norm on a regular basis.
I waited on an older lady to catch up to the door of the Wal-Mart the other day. She was pushing a shopping cart and coming in a side entrance where there was no automatic door. I waited, and I held the door.
And she smiled so big. Over such a small thing. Things that should be so natural to people to do.
But they’re not.
Small acts of kindness and courtesy are becoming less and less frequent. And our response is usually sarcasm and a “Why should I bother if they don’t?” attitude.
But that’s not the way. That’s not the Way.
Lent is not just about fasting, it’s about “almsgiving”.
And alms can be time, or money, or a needed item. The point is, they are an offering.
So many times we have what someone else needs. A smile. A hug. A kind word. A twenty dollar bill.
We have it, but we’re not offering it.
And that’s where the sacrifice comes in.
It’s not in the gift, it’s in the offering of it. Because that’s what requires the sacrifice. It means taking ones eyes off themselves and focusing on another.
Nothing comes less naturally to selfish creatures.
All the more reason to make it a priority.
Bless someone else today. Intentionally.
Even if you couldn’t care less about the practice of Lent.
Just do something kind, however small it may seem, for someone else.
Be blessed. And be the blessing.