lent: giving up nothing and everything


it’s a been a time of year that has perplexed and irritated me since my youth.

i know, that was a pretty bold sentence. but it’s true.

i can remember in high school, being an unchurched ‘christian’ for the majority of my young life, hearing so many of my friends talking about what they were ‘giving up for lent.’ usually it was sugar, pop/soda, chocolate, television, etc. treats and excesses. sounded more like a new year’s resolution to me or a diet that was forced and sure to fail or cause resentment. i guess it was the disliking for the religious spirit early on that triggered these sentiments. and just to clarify, a ‘religious spirit’ is one that exudes a false sense of righteousness or holiness. rules but no relationship.

then, i accepted Jesus, and to be honest, i have never once decided to partake in lent. to me now, lent says, ‘fish fry’. i mean, that’s what people talk about and make a fuss over.  i did a little digging, b/c as usual, the Lenten feeds and headlines are starting again…people are giving up foods, social media, treats, and once again, i am left with that irritated feeling. i’m not picking on you. i promise; it’s not my intention. i think it’s great that you’re choosing to not watch television and that you are determined not to touch chocolate or tweet on twitter for six weeks. that stuff is hard!  i applaud you! 

but, i have a question.

what about the rest of it?

the prayer.

the repentence.

the almsgiving.

the preparing of our hearts for the observance of the death and resurrection of our Lord?

lent isn’t meant to be a six week challenge to observe a diet, a cleaning regimen, or an exercise routine. it’s holy. it’s sacrificial. it’s somber. it should be life-changing.

so my proposal…my choice…as a way to take back these Holy days for myself in my own life and heart is to give up absolutely nothing for the rest of these six weeks…except for myself.

i chose to focus more on my family, less on my work. more on my children, less on social media. more on my Bible, less on tv. more on sleep, less on ‘catching up.’ more on Jesus, less on ‘me’.

when i start to think ‘me-thoughts’ or start to do ‘me-things’ (like all of those little time-suckers i referenced), i will make a choice and effort to realign my agenda with the Father’s agenda for my day…my hour…my moment.

you may be thinking that what i am saying i am not doing is actually what i am doing, but it all boils down to purpose. what is my purpose? what is your purpose? is it tradition that drives you? is it the dedicated time and schedule aspect of it that helps you to rise to the occasion? is it for fun? if your answer to any of those is ‘yes’, then my hope is that you will take some time to really think about what this stretch of days is supposed to be about…who it’s supposed to be about. Jesus.

not coffee. not cheeseburgers.  not chocolate. not pinterest, twitter or the bachelor. Jesus.

and when you forgo your cup of joe in the morning or pass on the candy bar in the cafeteria…use it as an opportunity to bow your head, close your eyes, and picture the King of Kings and Lord of Lords sitting on His throne in Heaven. He’s there b/c He died for you and me. He suffered the Cross, and rose from the grave so that you, and me, and our neighbors, co-workers, children and friends could spend all of eternity by His side. 

 i think that, my friends, is worth more than chocolate any day, and should be remembered everyday.


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