Someone once counted all the promises in the Bible, and said there are a total of 8,810. Of these, 7,487—about 85% of the total—are God’s promises to us, and these are utterly reliable (Nelson’s Complete Book of Stories, Illustrations, & Quotes, p. 645). We can afford to trust in God’s promises to us throughout our lives; one day we will be judged on whether we’ve kept our baptismal promises to Him.
Lent is a good opportunity for us to examine our consciences in this regard, to repent of our failures, and to use God’s grace in working to overcome our faults and weaknesses. For instance, do we struggle to resist the temptation to gossip? During these next six weeks Jesus can help us make great strides in conquering this fault—if it’s truly our desire to do so. Are we judgmental in our words and our thoughts, or guilty of usually assuming the worst about others? If so, the Lord wants this to be an important focus of our Lenten observances. Are we somewhat lax or lazy in fulfilling our spiritual and religious duties? This Lent can serve as something of a “spiritual boot camp” or refresher course on what it means to be a true Christian. Are we often too afraid to defend our faith or stick up for another person out of fear of how others might react? Jesus wants to help us find inner resources of courage and strength, but we must actively look for them between now and Easter. Do we struggle with lust, pride, greed, anger, or any of the other seven deadly sins? The Lord offers us these coming six weeks as a time of promise—a promise that He will help us conquer these temptations, if we’re willing to do our part.
All of us know the date of our birth—but do we also know the date of our Baptism? That, after all, is supposed to be one of the most important days of our existence, a day that changed the course of our lives. Our parents and godparents promised to raise us in the faith, and every year at Easter we personally renew these baptismal promises. How are we doing? Are we living in a way that shows our Baptism wasn’t just a formality, but a genuine commitment? Lent is a chance to review our efforts, make any necessary adjustments, and deepen and renew our promises to Christ—and if we make good use of this opportunity, our Easter celebration six weeks from now will truly be a foretaste of the new life awaiting us in Heaven, where every one of God’s promises is perfectly and completely fulfilled.