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If we could do things over, what we would do differently?

If you had it to over, what would you do?

This question was asked in a survey of older people. Of the many answers given, three general areas stood out more than others.

• If I had it to do over again, I would reflect more.

• If I had it to do over again, I would risk more.

• If I had it to do over again, I would do more things that would live on after I die.

Missing from this list – If I had it to do over again, I would watch more TV, linger on Facebook, or work longer hours. What they do emphasize is a desire to do something of lasting significance.

This week: 1. We are dealing with effects of a ferocious string of winter storms. Many are without power, especially in Texas. 2. Continuing issues with COVID-19, mostly centered around distribution of the vaccine. 3. Dealing with serious food shortages with many children and families in our area.

Now, we are in the Christian season of Lent. At first, I wondered, how can we think about Lent with all these calamities facing us? But I realized something important. Lent is when we focus on enhancing our relationship with God. Remembering Christ’s life, ministry and death through prayer, reading the Bible and helping others also teaches how God is with us even in a crisis.

If I had it to do over again, I would reflect more.

The prophet Joel said, “Turn to God now, while there is time. Give your hearts.” (Joel 2:12) Joel describes God as merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.

If I had it to do over again, I would risk more.

Isaiah moves us from reflection to action. “Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.” (Isaiah 58:6-7) Isaiah describes a God who is unimpressed by lofty words unless they are followed by changing how we treat others.

If I had to do it over again, I would do more things that would live on after I die.

Matthew adds, “When you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:4) In other words, do more things that would live on after you die but do them for the right reason.

So, what can you do during Lent? Here are a few ideas I picked up over the years.

• Give up clutter by putting one thing in a box each day Until Easter then donate or toss.

• Do more reading of Scripture, praying, acts of kindness, sending thinking of you cards.

• Do less sweets, alcohol, social media, complaining or gossip and reflect on the benefits.

I heard a pastor say, “When you were born, you alone were crying and everybody else was happy. Now, when you die, are you alone going to be happy, leaving everybody else crying?” In other words, after the funeral will people be standing around talking about all the stuff you accumulated, or will they give testimonies of the good you did for them and others?

Love shown by a young volunteer soothes the fear of a teenager caught in the grasp of the pandemic. Love displayed and taught by Christ provided the foundation for the disciples to turn the world upside down. Love of a church community reaching out to those in need, whether it be food, medical help or emotional support provides a foundation for crisis recovery.

The season of Lent represents our chance to start again by reflecting more, risking more and doing more things that will live on after we die.

REV. LARRY E. DAVIES can be reached at larrydavies@vaumc.org.