A few years ago (well, more like ten) a good friend of mine gave me a used copy of this little devotional book, now out of print. It contains a single page for each day of the year, and includes a Bible verse (KJV) and up to three related quotes, sometimes including poetry or hymn lyrics. The quotes are from various Christian writers from the Renaissance up through the 1800s. I’ve discovered so many gems in this book over the years, by writers of whom I’d never heard.
Although I always intend to read from it every night, there is often a long lag between times when I open its worn paper cover. Last night when I turned to the reading for February 12th, I was delighted to read a quote about Lent which I never remembered seeing before. Since today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, I thought it would be appropriate to share it here:
“Am I really what I ought to be? Am I what, in the bottom of my heart, I honestly wish to be? Am I living a life at all like what I myself approve? My secret nature, the true complexion of my character, is hidden from all men, and only I know it. Is it such as I should be wiling to show? Is my soul at all like what my kindest and most intimate friends believe? Is my heart at all such as I should wish the Searcher of Hearts to judge me by? Is every year adding to my devotion, to my unselfishness, to my conscientiousness, to my freedom from the hypocrisy of seeming so much better than I am? When I compare myself with last year, am I more ready to surrender myself at the call of duty? Am I more alive to the commands of conscience? Have I shaken off my besetting sins?” These are the questions which this season of Lent ought to find us putting fairly and honestly to our hearts.
–Frederick Temple (1821 – 1902)