Lent is a time to give up in order to receive. We let go of hindrances that hold us back in our relationship with Christ, in order to move closer to Him. Lent is a time to listen to God.
Through the above readings there were a few different themes that stood out. At the risk of sounding like a commercial for the Spring Retreat, one of those themes was “Can You Hear Me?” A subtitle to the entire book of Psalms could be “Can You Hear Me?” All throughout the book the Psalmists inquires of God and wonders if the Lord’s ear has been turned away. “O Lord, be gracious to me; heal my soul, for I have sinned against You” (Psalm 41:4). “Arouse Yourself, why do You sleep, O Lord? Awake, do not reject us forever. Why do You hide Your face and forget our affliction and our oppression” (Psalm 44:23-24).
While the Psalmist, namely David, is often seeking to be heard by God, he too wants to hear from God. This is what we read in the Deuteronomy passage. Moses begins by telling the people “Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments…which I am commanding you today.” The Ten Commandments are also referred to as the “Ten Words” in Jewish tradition. To obey the commandments of God is to listen to Him.
But why should we listen? As children we listen to our parents because of their inherent authority over us. By the time we are in our teenage years we begin to question that authority and we branch out and make our own decisions. Then when we get a little mature and get into our 20s – give or take – we realize that we do not simply listen to our parents because they have authority, but because they have wisdom. For the most part our parents are looking out for our best interest and they have the life experience and wisdom to guide us in the way we should go. Essentially, as very young children we give our obedience to our parents because we feel we have to, but as we grow we realize it is what we should do out for our own best interests. This is something that the Bible picks up on.
David knows that God is wise and faithful and this is why he calls upon His name all throughout the Psalms. Moses tells the people in Deuteronomy not to “forget the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt.” We listen to God because He is worthy of our attention. He is worthy of our attention because He has been faithful to us in the past. David and Moses saw this in the way God had dealt with them in the past. The author of Hebrews saw this in the life of Christ. The author describes Christ as a “merciful and faithful high priest.” We know that He is merciful and faithful because “through death He might render powerless him who had the power of the, that is, the devil.” Also, “He does not give help to the angels, but He gives help to the descendents of Abraham,” that is, all those who believe in Him.
This Lenten season, are you giving up fast food to lose a few pounds? Or are you making a sacrifice in order to get closer to God? It could be as simple as giving up a little selfishness and giving God some time. As we prepare to celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ and the new life we have received through His sacrifice, take time to hear from God. Listen and obey because He has acted faithfully in the past and has promised to give us so much more in the future.