For years Lent was a foreign concept to this Fundamental independent Baptist raised girl yet now I live and move in a community of Irish Catholics and Protestant traditions that recognize Lent. It boggles my mind every year to see people walking around with an ash cross on their foreheads. I say to my chagrin that I don't think I could do that - the Lenten version of wearing your heart on your sleeve. I've also never succeeded in giving up anything. I always think about it and always think the most sacrificial thing I could do would be coffee... (She types as she reaches for the hot cup of that very stuff next to her....) But I’m familiar with my own heart and know that I’d spend the next forty days trying to find a substitute and that I’d be really crabby and would be acting in a decidedly un Jesus- like fashion- which I believe kind of defeats the whole purpose!
In all of it though, drinking or not drinking, cross or no cross, it comes down to what is in our hearts. God hates false worship – He’d rather have no worship that a worship of words without the inclusion of your heart.
The condition of the sheep didn’t make a difference; however the heart condition of the giver made all the difference in the world. Remember the widow of Mark 12 who put her two mites into the offering and was commended by Jesus because others had given from their abundance but she’d given all she had? She’d given her best.
How are our hearts? Are we bringing God the best we have; the best of our time, talents and energy? You, in ministry, it’s so easy (because it’s so busy!) to slip into doing just what you have to in program or preparation, so you can get onto the next thing! We all have more tasks than time, more month than money, more give than take, but we also have the ability, in whatever it is we’re doing, or not doing (in the case of Lent), to offer it to God from true hearts, bringing our best and thereby affirming that “You are a great King Lord God Almighty! You are worthy of the very best that I have!”