During the Lenten season, staff and church leaders will share a daily devotional. Please join us on the journey.

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil… Matthew 4

It was still Forty Days – But

Rawd McArthur – Finance Chair

In Mathew 4 we learn how Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights in the Judaean Desert. During this time Jesus was continually tempted by the devil to denounce God and worship him. With each temptation Jesus stayed true until the devil went away. We now celebrate this story during Lent from Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday.

To me this meant I needed to find something that I would have to give up. In my early years there was no real symbolism to this act, just a test among friends to see who could last the longest. As I remember, I never made it and other than a loss of pride, I really had no other emotion. Eventually, while I never forgot the story of Jesus in the desert, I stopped the tradition of giving anything up – until…

Jim Ellison, a former SUMC pastor, preached a sermon on Lent. It was meaningful to me and at the end he handed out symbolic nails representing the nails on the cross. These were to be my inspirational reminders to help me over the next 40 days. I gave up alcohol and snacks. So did I make it? Technically – no. I discovered what I considered the “Lent Loophole” – Sundays did not count. And since I had already made it through two Sundays, the count was now 40 days and I considered myself done. But truth be known it was a very unsatisfying victory.

Even my symbolic nail was telling me how empty my commitment had been.

So what affect did this experience have on me? I took a hard look at what Jesus did after His 40 days. He went on to fulfill God’s plan of saving the lost. No victory laps, no waiting until next year’s 40 day commitment – He just continued on.

This year my prayer will be to find a commitment which will allow me to do the same. A commitment which will allow me to both grow in my religious journey and use future “Lent celebrations” to enhance my journey.

As for my “nail,” I had it for about five years when it just disappeared – but by then it had already served its purpose.

Prayer: Jesus help me to continue in my devotion to you.