Lent Reflection day 20
Chapter twenty of Unseen Warfare ends with a great illustration about the problem of negligence: So be forever watchful, pray and take good care of everything good, as it behooves a courageous warrior: ‘The hands of the courageous are diligent’ (Prov. 13:4). Do not sit with folded hands, putting off the sewing of your wedding garments the moment when it is time to go out in festive raiments to meet the coming bridegroom, Christ our Lord. Remind yourself every day that now is in our hands, but tomorrow is in the hands of God, and that He Who gave you this morning has not bound Himself with the promise to give you the evening too. Refuse to listen to the devil when he whispers to you: give me now, and you will give tomorrow to God. No, no! Spend all the hours of your life in a way pleasing to God; keep in your mind the thought that after the present hour you will not be given another and that you will have to render a strict account for every minute of this present hour. Remember that the time you have in your hands is priceless and if you waste it uselessly, the hour will come when you will seek and not find it. Consider as lost a day when, although performing good deeds, you have not struggled to overcome your bad tendencies and desires.
To end my lesson on this subject, I shall repeat the Apostle’s commandment: “Fight the good fight” always (I Tim. 6:12). For one hour of diligent work has often gained heaven and one hour of negligence has lost it. Take great care if you want to prove before God your firm faith in your salvation. ‘He who trusts in the Lord will rejoice’ (Prov. 29:25).
I think that many people say to the devil, “I’ll give you today, and I’ll give God tomorrow.” I think I may have said that myself a few times, although I didn’t know I was speaking to the devil when I did.
This chapter also contains some great advice about how to tackle jobs that seem overwhelming: … look at the matter this way: of course you must work, but not much, you must undertake labors, but they are very small and will not last long; you will meet enemies, but instead of many there will be only one, and, although he is too strong against you alone, yet you are incomparably stronger than he, since you can always rely on God’s help in return for your great trust in it. If you have this attitude, negligence will begin to retreat from you and in its place, under the influence of good thoughts and feelings, there will gradually enter into you a diligent zeal in everything, which will finally possess all the powers of your soul and body. Do the same in relation to prayer. Supposing the performance of some sacred service demands an hour of diligent prayer, which seems burdensome to your laziness; then, in starting this work, do not think that you must stand for an hour, but imagine that it will last only a quarter of an hour. In this way, the quarter of an hour of prayer will pass imperceptibly. Thereupon say to yourself: ‘Let us stand for another quarter of an hour—it’s not much, as you see.” Do the same for the third and the fourth quarter, and you will complete your task of prayer, without noticing any hardship or difficulty, If, in the course of this, you feel it so onerous that this feeling interferes with the prayer itself, leave off reciting prayers for a while and then, after a short interval, resume it again and finish what you have omitted.
We might sum up this teaching today with the phrase, “one day at a time.” We may feel like we can’t fast for forty days, but we can certainly fast for one, or half of one. Then when we say this same thing eighty times in a row, the fast is well within our reach.
We’re halfway through our Lenten journey, brothers and sisters. Let us not worry about the remainder, but let us prepare our hearts for worship tomorrow, and give today to God!