One of the most beautiful opportunities during Lent is the opportunity to focus on the larger Christian community around the world. It is an opportunity to repent – such as when reading of abuses committed by those who call themselves followers of Christ – and to pray for those who’ve been abused, both by those from within the church and those from without.
She was rescued from the middle of a Florida highway, a soft brown ball of fur surrounded by whizzing cars. One driver stopped, scooped her up and brought her to an animal shelter. Ten days later, when no one claimed her, she was vaccinated, spayed and trucked to Maine by an animal rescue organization.
“We’re getting a puppy,” I told a friend.
“Are you sure that’s a good idea?” she asked.
“Yes,” I said with more certainty than I felt.
I was blessed this week to share at Ladies of Hope, a local monthly Bible study, about a practice that helps prepare me for my day: praying the armor of God. Plenty of people pray the rosary of the Lord’s Prayer. When we pray, it is often helpful to have a guide or template. Such forms give our prayers structure and can help us relate our concerns to God when we don’t know what to say. One passage that helps me pray is Ephesians 6:10-17, which urges believers to put on God’s armor: The belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, shoes to spread the Gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, God’s word.
This week as students and faculty are laid to rest in Parkland, Florida, I sat at my computer and studied their faces, praying for their families. I read about their too-short lives, gunned down on Valentine’s Day by a violent and mentally disturbed young man who should have never been allowed access to a gun. And I was shocked to discover my own name there.
As a young adult, my New Year’s resolutions often involved reading through the Bible in a year or praying for a prescribed number of minutes or hours – Yes, hours! – per day. Inevitably, I fell short, as did my resolutions to drop a certain number of pounds, exercise for a certain number of hours, or finish writing a certain-length manuscript. As lofty as such goals are, they typically run hard into reality, and reality usually wins.