I have never practiced Lent, that spiritual discipline of giving something up for 40 days before Easter. Since I am neither Catholic or Orthodox, it isn’t something I have been taught or even really exposed to. However, lately Pastor Neil has been teaching on spiritual disciplines and talking about Lent as a custom. He challenged us to consider what we might sacrifice during this time, in order to draw closer to God. I love the idea, and have been praying about what to fast. It “officially” starts on Wednesday-tomorrow-so you can still jump on the old bandwagon, (I will even scoot over for ya!)
I would love to do a 40 day full fast some day, but now is not the time. I am training for the Half-marathon and need that fuel! However, there are lots of things to fast, or give up, besides food. The idea is to voluntarily offer something that we enjoy daily, something that takes time (or money) that you could offer instead to God. Some worthy ideas are TV, Facebook or the computer, your Ipad, coffee, one meal a day, the reading of any books but the Bible, or maybe a favorite hobby or game. The thought is that, each time you reached for that item/food/pleasure you would recall “Oh yeah, I gave that up for Lent!” and spend the equivalent time instead, praying or reading the Word, and offering God just a bit more of yourself. It’s not about legalism and rule keeping, instead it is all about LORDSHIP, and a way of saying with our actions
“Father, You have precedence in my life.”
The next 40 days are a busy, busy time and the time constraints influenced my decision a bit, but I decided I just don’t want to skip this wonderful opportunity. I still wanted to give up something I enjoy daily–besides coffee. I know that would be the ideal choice, as it is truly sacrificial and something I rely on daily! Yet, similar to FOOD, that first hot cup of caffeine is part of my marathon training, and without it I might not have the strength to put on my Asics in the morning. (grin)
So. First, I have committed to reading the Lectio Divina. There is more info here, if you’d like to follow along with the Scripture each day:
and I have decided to give up all sugar for Lent:
The idea is that, for the next 46 days:
may Jesus be the sweetest thing in my life.
My birthday is at the end of the month, so I admit with some embarrassment that yes-I was hesitating to commit (because–cue gasp–No birthday cheesecake with strawberries?! What?! ) but I learned that the early church did not practice Lent on Sundays, because that was a day of celebration! So…my Tuesday birthday will simply be celebrated the Sunday before! Perfect!
Like anything we do for Christ, the benefit will be more on my side than His, of course. Sugar isn’t healthy, and only impedes my training yet I still enjoy a bit of it, everyday. That God would be my ultimate reward, my evening comfort, my total satisfaction? That is my goal. He needs nothing, and desires only relationship. Anything I give Him is miniscule, compared to the Cross. I look forward to growing closer to Him over the next 40 days!
and I am really, really dedicated, folks…in order to make sure I stick to this goal, I was VERY careful to remove all temptation from the house:
diligent to finish off the last half pint of Ben and Jerrys in the freezer,
and dedicated enough to eat the last 3 Dove chocolates in my nightstand,
plus a small cupcake.
give, give, give-that’s my motto!