The Point (Banjul)

27 February 2013

Gambia: Lent - the Journeying With Perseverance

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For one to set-off on a journey, only to discover at the middle of the road that the journey involves a great deal, and that it is full of hazards and that his destination is quite far, could be very challenging, if not disheartening.Such a development might give rise to a second though on the part of the person on whether to continue or terminate the journey.In trying to arrive at a mature decision, the person has to put into consideration, the length already made, what it has caused him and the implications of going back.He has also to consider his original goal and vision and whether it is worth all the sufferings involved.He has to know to what extent he is guaranteed that if he takes all the pain in continuing, he will achieve his purpose.If at the end, he decides to continue on his journey, he has to use all the means at his disposal to resourciatate his zeal, his determination and sense of purpose.Such is our journey of life, and such is our forty days Christian journey of Lent.It is a journey of faith and it needs a great deal of perseverance.God today leads us through an exploration of what the journey means for us in the account of His covenant with Abraham.(Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18), the admonition of St Paul to the Philippians 3:17, 4:1, and the narrative of the transfiguration of Jesus Christ by (Luke 9:28-86).

Our journey of life is a journey that leads us to salvation, so is the journey of Lent (with its entire component elements), which as a symbol and summary of the journey of life, is geared towards salvation.As he is with any other thing that has to do with life, salvation and eternity, God is the author of this journey and we make it purposefully in as much as we are in partnership with Him.The Biblical name for this partnership is 'covenant'.Abraham's own journey of faith was initiated by God when He called him, and today as he came to the middle of the difficult road, He gave him guarantee in these Words "Look up to heaven and count the stars if you can.Such will be your descendants".(Genesis 5:5).Abraham had already started, it is a difficult but worthy course, and the most wonderful guarantee is being given by no other person, but the faithful God who had already identified Himself with the journey and the success he had made so far when He told him:"I Am the Lord who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to make you heir to this land".(Genesis 5:7).To turn back at this stage would be a most un-noble step and a betrayal of the God of faithfulness.In collaboration with God's grace, many of us have, either at the beginning of the Lenten season or at any other period, made some resolutions, and taken some steps that set us in the path of salvation.We must have done this in view of the promised salvation that lies ahead and the dignity of walking in the path of God's will.As many of have given up or are seeking to give up our inspired and well made resolution because of the difficulty involved in going along with them, and being steadfast, the Lord reminds us of the following:It is something that He Himself has initiated in us as a part of His covenant relationship with us, as we are not free to discard it as if to say that it is purely our own personal business.He guarantees us that His promises are true and makes us to look up like Abraham and see the reward ahead of us and as such, to persevere.He demands that like Abraham, we put our confidence and faith in Him as we journey.He identifies Himself with the journey that we have made so far and the victory recorded and as such gives us the incentive to push ahead.

In the Ancient fat-Eastern society to which Abraham belonged, the mode of sacrifice which he made to seal the covenant with God was quite symbolic and remarkable.He cut the animals in halves and put them facing each other.By this act, and by passing between the parts of the slain animals, the contracting parties called down on themselves the fate of the victims, should they violate the covenant.This implies that Abraham has resolutely resolved never to go back on the path that the Lord has marked out for him no matter the cost. St Paul in his message today expressed strongly, the danger of retreating from the way of salvation which the Lord has made known to (and has set in motion for) us, simply because of the difficulties and sufferings involved.He states "I have told you often and I repeat it today with tears, there are some of you who are behaving as the enemies of the cross of Christ.They are destined to be lost".(Philippians 3:18).

Whenever we persevere in path of righteousness, God would consistently make a series of positive interventions into our lives to confirm the steps that we have taken, and to make sure that the scandal of the suffering and the tension of the present moment not withstanding, we don't lose sight of the glory and victory that is ahead of us.If we as Christians, don't experience in our lives, the grace of these occasional miraculous interventions of God, it could be owning to our inattentiveness, or lack of perseverance, or at worst, our out-right break of faith.In the gospel of today, Jesus Christ seeing how His imminent passion and death in bound to constitute a great deal of scandal and frustrations to the apostles, took three of them to a mountain, and there in the event of the transfiguration, unveiled to them, a glimpse of the victory and glory of the resurrection.Even to witness this event, a great deal of perseverance was demanded of them at the moment for as the gospel pointed out "They (Peter and his companions) were heavy with sleep, but they kept awake and saw His glory".(Luke 9:32).This experience was to affirm them and to strengthen their faith in Christ Jesus and to re-enforce their determination in the course they have undertaken, despite the scandal of the cross, or whatever it is along the line, for they have on that faithful day, heard the Father's confirmation of Jesus in these words:"This is My Son, My Chosen, listen to Him".(Luke 9:35).

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