Lent starts today (Ash Wednesday). Lent – in the traditional church is 40 days and nights before Easter, not including Sundays. It’s a time for reflection, sacrifice, and lament over Christ’s death. It doesn’t include Sundays, because of the reality that Christ HAS risen, and HAS redeemed us from our punishment of eternal separation from God.
Being raised Catholic – it was tradition to “give up” something for lent. It was something done out of a sense of legalism – you do this, because this is what you do for lent….
When i left the Catholic church – i abandoned “giving something up” for lent – because of the sense of guilt that I felt. It wasn’t until the past four or five years that I started doing it again – not out of obligation, but out of a sense of wanting to be more desperate for Christ.
You see, it’s easy for us to be desperate when things aren’t going well – jobs, finances, relationships, family… throw a wrench in it – and we become desperate for God – desperate for His word, His presence to be our very breath. When things straighten out – the desperation goes away – or so we think. Fact is – our souls remain just as desperate for Christ to show up in every way, it just becomes harder to recognize.
So my encouragement this Lent is this – try giving something up. Don’t do it because you think Jesus will love you more if you do – he already loves you perfectly. Don’t feel guilty if you decide not to – Jesus won’t love you any less. But should you choose to – find something that you truly would miss – coke, Facebook, listening to the radio, meat, watching TV, watching American Idol ….
You don’t need to tell anyone – in fact, God’s word tells us to fast in secret – not making a display. Just know that should you choose to do so – there will be a community of believers joining you. And as you find yourself desiring that thing that you are fasting from, let your prayer simply be this – “Lord Jesus, make me more desperate for You.”