“And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.” Matthew 6:18
When you do good deeds and give alms, do it in secret.
When you pray to me, do it in secret.
When you fast, stay joyful and wash your face, and do it in secret.
When Jesus says something more than once, I pay attention, especially when it is within the very same chapter of the scripture. In today’s gospel which marks the beginning of Lent, the Lord is helping us to set our minds straight, to go to that sacred place where He wants us.
Yesterday’s post talked about the Lord beckoning us to intimacy wherever we are, wherever He has called us. We have been preparing our hearts for several weeks in light of this day. And now that we have positioned ourselves to look at God and have God look at us, let’s find our center for the start of Lent.
Now that we are in our secret place, what do we do here? Well, we have His instructions and they are specific. Give our treasure away, pray in private and fast. Like the rich young man, we can check all of those boxes. Yes Lord, I already do these things, or yes Lord I will do these things. That is the same answer that the rich young man gave. To check boxes. Yes Lord I can check boxes! But just as the Lord goes deeper and further with his teachings and command to the rich young man to sell everything He had to gain eternal life, so Jesus goes deeper and further with us.
He does not want us to be surface Christians who ride waves above an ocean. He wants us to be deep sea divers, exploring the ocean floor and discovering new marine life, a place and space that we have never seen before.
So what does He say we must do in order to attain that depth, that eternity, that deep seated and lasting joy?
This gospel, this instruction is all about letting go of ego.
Nobody noticed what you did? Feeling like you are unappreciated? You’ve done what you believe is God’s will and people continue to criticize you rather than help you?
Well good. Let go of that ego. Have you done what you believe is God’s will? Have you followed His commandments? Have you like the rich young man checked all the boxes?
Yes, Jesus may be asking you to give everything away. But this admonition to the rich young man is more than that. It is a command to self-denial which comes in many forms. Today’s form and center for us is to abandon the ego.
People, humans, are cruel and ungrateful creatures. You may not feel seen. You may be caring for an elderly parent or may have just given a lot of money to someone who needed it. In what we do for the Lord, there is often times no “thank yous”. But I am here to deliver a message for you today. Keep doing it-
He sees you. He sees you when you don’t feel or believe you are seen. We forget that when we work, we work unto the Lord. Or when we care for someone, we care for them as if they were Christ.
Several months ago, I began a project that I wholeheartedly believe was given to me by God. The harder I worked, the less people noticed. I worked nights and weekends on this project. Did I mention that I am not getting paid for this project? Nevertheless, I kept going, I kept praying and asking for God’s blessing and direction. Yesterday, I asked myself, is this even worth it? Nobody seems to care or notice me. I asked God again, for the millionth time, is this where you want me to be? I was feeling dejected about it, wanting to quit. I was in position for Lent, but not until today did I feel or understand the place where I was in. As I centered, I heard God’s voice.
I see you
This reminded me of one of my favorite scriptures (Genesis 16), one that has given me hope and comfort over the years.
When Sarah could not conceive, she admonished her husband Abraham to take up a maidservant, Hagar, so the couple could bear a son. This was not God’s plan, but Sarah was impatient and so decided to do things her own way. Jealousy got the best of Sarah as sin crept in for the wrong she had done and so Sarah began to mistreat Hagar, so much so that Hagar ran away.
She was found by an angel near a spring in the wilderness. The angel spoke words of comfort to her, telling her this son that she was carrying would be the bearer of many generations to come. The angel’s words from the Lord were what Hagar needed to hear in order to return to Abraham and Sarah and deliver her son under such harsh conditions.
There in that wilderness, near the spring, after hearing the Lord’s words that were personally delivered to her, she gave God a name.
You are God who sees me
He sees your suffering
He sees your pain
He sees your heartache and
He sees your doubt
Yes, you have prayed and I am hear to deliver a message to you this morning as the angel did to Hagar. He sees you. He knows. He WILL answer.
In intimacy with Him we can hear this. Like Hagar in the wilderness, we can look beside us and see the same spring, the same angel. Not only is God telling you that He sees you, but He also is telling you that He will repay you for doing His work. You will be rich in the kingdom of heaven, available here on this earth- His joy, His peace and His love. He brings us those things that are hearts and souls so desperately need.
So as you sit and begin your day, one on one, in the wilderness, see today’s scripture as the spring and these words from Christ as your messenger, your center. Do not give up, do not shed one more tear over those that don’t see you.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” – Colossians 3:23-24
As you take up your shield of faith today on Ash Wednesday, keep giving of yourself when nobody notices or thanks you, keep praying where nobody sees you and with prayers that have yet to be answered, keep fasting from the things of this world and following God’s commandments even as you are questioning yourself if it’s worth it.
I see you, and I will repay you.