And Samuel said, "Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from being king." (1 Samuel 15:22-23, ESV)
Creating and leading a class on Lent is a challenging task. Doing so when many of those participating don't have much background in the practice increases the challenge. Making real connections to what God has been impressing on my heart to the subject - now that's the fun of it all. If you strip away all the non-essentials, you are left with a personal choice that is intended to reach your heart. Lent, when observed from a position of humble gratitude, can be exactly that. It isn't about the practice in and of itself, it is about moving my heart closer to God's heart.
Saul had been given an order to completely eliminate the Amalekites. In the end, for whatever reason, his version of "obedience" didn't match what God was after. He hemmed and hawed when Samuel questioned him, throwing his own soldiers under the bus all the while claiming he had done what was asked. In addition, he was ready to offer up the spoils as sacrifice. Samuel tells him very clearly that God doesn't want the sacrifice (or the ritual, or the checklist, or the piety), God wants Saul's heart. More specifically, God wants my heart. That message to Saul is the same today as it was then. God wants your heart. The rest is fine, but if it doesn't come out of a heart pitched toward God, it's a hollow ritual at best.
The Crooked Path takes us many places. What a joy to know that I don't travel alone, that my Lord has both gone before me and walks beside me ... even carries me when I need it most. In reverent reflection of what He has done, this particular Season of Lent can be most special for me. God wants my heart and is ready to connect with me!