February 18, 2015: Betting On God – Where would you place your $$

Posted on : Feb 18th, 2015 | By | Category: Still Speaking

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And having come up out of the water, immediately Jesus saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Child; with you I am well pleased.”

 The Spirit immediately drove Jesus out into the wilderness. And Jesus was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to him.”             Mark 1: 9-11


Today is the first day in the Season of Lent. Most Christians associate Lent with childhood practices of giving up something – usually something frivolous or fattening – in an effort to help us better relate to the suffering of Jesus. Thankfully, the meaning of Lent is far from that.

The suffering Jesus experiences in the desert isn’t about giving up chocolate, meat on Fridays, cussing, drinking or smoking. The suffering Jesus experiences is about accepting who he was as a “beloved child of God,” and whose “Way” he was going to follow: his culture’s, his religion’s, or something new and radically different, God’s way of compassion and justice.

The real meaning of Lent isn’t to lose ten pounds or be miserable. It’s to come out of the desert-experience of our lives stronger, more aware of who we are as God’s beloved and empowered to change ourselves and the world for the better.

Frederick Buechner, a living theologian of our time (he’s 89 years old!), offers these thoughts for us on the meaning of Lent. I love them and use them in my devotional life every year. You can take these questions further or ask your own.

As we journey through the wilderness, may you be blessed,



“In many cultures there is an ancient custom of giving a tenth of each year’s income to some holy use. For Christians, to observe the forty days of Lent is to do the same thing with roughly a tenth of each year’s days. After being baptized by John in the river Jordan, Jesus went off alone into the wilderness where he spent forty days asking himself the question what it meant to be Jesus. During Lent, Christians are supposed to ask, one way or another, what it means to be themselves.

‘If you had to bet everything you have on whether there is a God or whether there isn’t, which would get your money and why?’

‘Is there any person in the world, or any cause that, if circumstances called for it, you would be willing to die for?’

‘If this were the last day of your life, what would you do with it?’

To hear yourself try to answer questions like these is to begin to hear something not only of who you are but of both what you are becoming and what you are failing to become. It can be a pretty depressing business all in all, but if sackcloth and ashes are at the start of it, something like Easter may be at the end.”

– Fredrick Buechner

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