Written by: Seth Powell
I am experiencing something new this year. The season of Lent is something I have never practiced or even really heard about. This is weird, I know, but church back home just doesn't celebrate this. I went to an ashe wednesday service yesterday, and before that I went to a homeless shelter and volunteered. In the service we sang praises and worshipped together as well as took communion and then took ashes and put them on our foreheads to remind us of how the scriptures tell us that we were made from dust and without God we will also return to dust. It was very traditional and very beautiful. Tyler, our pastor, talked about how Lent is a time of fasting and prayer and how we should seek out the things that take the place of God in our lives sometimes and strive to get rid of those things during this time. It was a time of honesty and self examination. Like I said earlier, prior to this service, I was at a homeless shelter in downtown serving dinner. The men of the shelter came down for dinner first and an older african american man was the first to go through the line. At the time, I wasn't doing anything and this particular man was in a wheelchair and so I decided to carry his tray to his table for him and get his drink. After he sat down and got settled I began to talk to the man. He started asking questions about me, and about what I was involved in (sports, academics, hobbies). He was a very friendly man. When I talked to him about school, he asked what my GPA was and I told him it wasn't as high as I wanted but that I was working to bring it up this semester. It was then that the night gained meaning. After this, my friend said, "let me ask you Seth, do you pray?" I said yea I sure do and he suddenly opens up and starts talking to me about how the scriptures tell us over and over that we should do everything through prayer and fasting. He told me that as long as we are doing those things that God will bless us no matter what our situation is. As I parted way's with my new friend, he asked that I pray for him and he promised to pray for me. As I left this man, I realized that the amount of life that he had experienced, from a worldly viewpoint, was way less than I will ever experience. But somehow, this man had all of the hope in the world. An old man living in a homeless shelter and in a wheelchair is happier than I am at 19 sitting in a college dorm room with luxuries all around. At this moment I realized what it was that was coming before God in my life. Everything. My life get's so cluttered sometimes with nonsense that I forget about God and about his grace and mercy. This season of Lent has already been well worth the time and focus. Praise be to God for faithful followers like my friend from the shelter. I hope I can be as fortunate as him one day.
"Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Phillipians 4:6-7 (NRSV)
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