Samuel 16:1-5 (ESV)
1 The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” 2 And Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me.” And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ 3 And invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do. And you shall anoint for me him whom I declare to you.” 4 Samuel did what the Lord commanded and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling and said, “Do you come peaceably?” 5 And he said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.
Our season of Lent is rooted in an ancient Christian practice of fasting before Easter. Normally, a fast means abstaining from food for a length of time during which we experience hunger. In a Lenten fast, the discomfort of hunger can remind us of the discomfort Jesus endured on our behalf during his crucifixion and death, and thereby enable us to draw closer to him in our lives.
A Lenten fast, through the power of the Holy Spirit, can also suggest to us the need to repent, to turn away from some sinful behavior that keeps us from enjoying a greater presence of God. Lent thus offers us the chance to grow closer to God through fasting and repentance, and thus better enjoy his presence in these earthly lives.
So, the invitation that Lent sets before us all is “come and engage purposefully in the discomfort that fasting and repentance entails so that you may have more of God now!”
We are a little over halfway through Lent: how have you RSVP’d? Keep in mind, the invitation really is from God. “Leave off these things; draw closer to me!” he says.
Perhaps you have declined God’s offer. Perhaps you think you cannot leave behind whatever it is you’ve chosen over God’s invitation. If so, then you’re like us all—we love our comforts.
But God’s invitation keeps insisting on something, something we know is true from our own experience: our comforts age, grow stale, die. They must be replaced with new ones that will also spoil over time.
How long will you grieve over your dying comforts, Christian, before you fill your horn with oil, and go to obey God’s will?
Lord Jesus, help us turn from the dying around us to embrace fully your invitation to life eternal. Amen.