This is part of a syndicated series for Lent 2019 with Harvard’s Christian Journal Ichthus. Visit Ichthus at http://www.harvardichthus.org
By Daniel Tokarz Morse ’20. Daniel is a major in Mechanical Engineering.
My second grade Sunday school teacher was a big fan of special metaphors. In one particularly memorable class, he wrote God on the board and then explained that every time we sinned, we were slowly rotating ourselves towards the opposite board, on which he had written some of the worldly temptations children tend to struggle with. He then explained to us that Lent was a special time of the year where we were to make a conscious decision to turn back towards God, whom we had shown our back in our sinful ways. What struck me as odd, even then, was the lack of detestable actions on the second board. They all just seemed to be basic personal indulgences. In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis beautifully paints a portrait of temptation from the view of the enemy. At one point, one of the demons writes a letter of advice suggesting:
“Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one–the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts,…Your affectionate uncle, Screwtape.”
Especially as Christians, it is often difficult to view places where we gravely sin, which in turn allows us to enter into a state of compliancy where we comfort ourselves with the thought that we are not as sinful as the people around us (even when this is not in fact the case). Lent is a time for prayer and personal reflection, to observe the places in our lives, both big and small, where we have turned our backs to God. Through fasting and the giving up some of the personal indulgences we typically enjoy, we can train ourselves to be more reliant on his Bread of Life, so that we may fulfill his calling of reorienting ourselves towards the Lord our God and continuing our walk towards Heaven.