The 4 letter L word. LENT.
Let me start by saying that these are my opinions only. These are my personal observations based on my researching and asking questions, prayer, reading my bible and through my own experiences. If you have any questions after reading the post please feel free to contact me. I’d love to hear from you.
Why do we have Lent? I’ll be honest. For years I have tried to avoid this question. Every year when that time comes up I tend to feel this P U L L which is my self pulling back from giving something up that I love because, well, I don’t want to give it up.
Why do we make such a big deal out of Lent? I am still trying to figure this one out and not just from a point of “well everyone else is giving something up, so I might as well too.” Too often I saw this time of year to be the excuse for someone to finally give up something in their life that makes it “unhealthy”, or others may use the excuse of not finishing through with their New Year’s Resolutions so they give it one last go until next year. It seemed to always be something that had to do with a bad habit, food or changing how we look, etc...
- No Carbs
- More working out
- No coffee
- More water intake
- Portion control
- Get that beach body ready
....and so on…. I’m not saying this is bad, but there is a difference between sacrificing something for God and for good rather than “sacrificing” something for you only to appease yourself and possibly for other people. Point is, if you are not doing it for God to glorify Him and strengthen your relationship with Him, then don’t do it.
The observation of Lent is the span of time in the liturgical (Christian) calendar which starts with Ash Wednesday and ends with Easter Sunday. Ash Wednesday commemorates the beginning of when Jesus was in the desert for 40 days while fasting. Easter Sunday commemorates Jesus’ resurrection from the grave after his crucifixion.
So, as we know, Jesus was tempted in the desert. Straight from scripture it says in Matthew 4:1-11 NLT:
The Temptation of Jesus
1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil.
2 For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry.
3 During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.”
4 But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say,
‘People do not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, 6 and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say,
‘He will order his angels to protect you.
And they will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’ ”
7 Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’ “
8 Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.
9 “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.”
10 “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say,
‘You must worship the Lord your God
and serve only him.’ ”
11 Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.
Can you even imagine??? This is the best example of Jesus being a true leader to us. Living by example, folks. He would never ask us to do something first without having done it himself.
I think back on all the things in my life, past and present and even currently, that were(are) temptations. They are tempting because they look, taste, feel and are appealing to our liking. But in the end if it won’t end up glorifying Jesus, then that’s how we know it would usually be the devil trying to trip us up and redirect our focus away from God.
So all that being said, typically we choose to give things up for Lent because everyone else is doing it. Why are you participating with Lent? Is it because everyone else is? Or because we are Christians and it just the right thing to do? SO You can look and feel better about yourself. So that you can feel like you can accomplish something in life?….We quickly forget that Jesus chose to be tested and tempted so He had a better understanding of what we go through. He devoted himself to prayer and focus on Our Heavenly Father. If that's what he was doing during his time of testing then, shouldn't we?
This should be a time to refocus and hash through all our bad habits and be transformed by the Holy Spirit, to become fresh, new, living a life being lead by God, not by our temptations. When we take out those things we end up with a void. We sacrifice that “thing” so what we can fill that void with the Holy Spirit. Which is why there is temptation. If you give up coffee, it will be there staring you in the face every morning as you try to wake up and get your children ready for the day, or you are bored and what better way to read a book then with a coffee in hand. You go for a walk and there is a coffee shop on EVERY CORNER, especially if live in the UK or Europe. Suddenly our minds are convincing ourselves that we cannot live a day without this precious nectar that we have chosen to give up. How dare we think it was a good idea to give this up. That, friends, is call temptation....and denial!
I was inspired by a friend here who gave up sugar for the month of January. I thought that was really great and I was thinking about about how hard that would be for me. So Lent came up, and I started thinking about it and what I needed to give up in order to focus on my relationship with God and get into His word more. Sugar is what came to my mind, Coffee was a close second.
Here in the UK most people either drink their coffee and tea black or with milk. Rarely ever with sugar. However, if you are Canadian or American, you know that sugar is basically what sustains the coffee or tea bevy. COming from Canada you know I LOVE my Tim Horton’s double double coffee or French Vanilla Cappuccino. I also LOVE my Starbucks White Mocha Americo or bold coffee with hazelnut syrup and heavy cream. I also have a major sweet tooth. Give me all the candy and chocolate covered raisins, cakes, desserts, donuts, anything you can and it still wouldn’t be enough. YUM-YUM! So, to sums things up, I knew for me, it was either sugar and sweets or coffee. Then quickly realised that coffee was just out of the question. SUGAR AND SWEETS IT IS.
My spirit is obese and it needs to lose a few pounds....
That is when I really started to think about why I am choosing to rid this in my current lifestyle. There a couple benefits to doing this. I’ll begin a physically healthy life in the flesh AND in the spirit. I have been asking God to show me ways that I can focus more on Him and delve into Scripture more and really apply what I am hearing from God to my life. I need more of Jesus in it. I never want to be content in my relationship with Him. I have also always been relatively fit my whole life but then I had a couple kids and I am ageing and my body is beginning to change how it processes foods and sitting, I like relaxing on the couch or in front of the computer. I have two young little micro humans running around folks. They keep me busy and I want to always be able to keep up with them but still also be spiritually fruitful so that I can be a good example to them in the flesh and the spirit.
Being a Christian and giving up something for Lent doesn’t suddenly make you Holy and you’re set for Heaven. Like any relationship, it takes work, it takes sacrifice. It’s not easy, we get tempted, we lose focus, we fill our life voids with anything and everything else. Just thinking about God on a daily basis will not suffice. You will lack and over time you will notice. Are you understanding the similarities? It says in James 12 that the testing of faith developes perseverance. It gets easier and harder all at once, but the end result will be so worth it.
Every day I am faced with sugar for my coffee/tea, or those chocolate chip cookies, or nutella and peanut butter on my toast, or anything that is artificially sweetened, and I know it’s only been a couple days but it IS already getting easier, doesn’t mean I don’t stop seeing the sugar in my line of vision, but I won’t be as quick to reach for it. I see it, I move on. I crave the sweet snack, I drink some water instead or eat something healthy. I am also learning to enjoy my cuppa with its true richness. But I also am making a point of reading my bible every day and pray about it, talk to God. Some days I don’t get to it until the very end of my day after the kids are in bed and I finally have some time to myself. But I regularly ask God to just keep reminding me to open my bible, or remind me to pray…All of life's busyness get also be a distraction, but it gets easier.
Let me finish with this thought. Giving up something in our lives so that we can alter our focus toward Christ does not have to be JUST for Lent. I personally believe that Christ wants us to every day have this type of thought pattern. Make that sacrifice 365 days of the year. It won’t be an easy challenge, I know it’s not easy for me, but make your focus on Christ the new habit and soon it will be just like breathing, or as easy to reaching for that cookie (or 5). ;)
Will you take the challenge with me?
I'd love to hear what and why you've chosen that specific "thing" to give up for Lent?
I borrowed the photos off of pinterest.com. I do not claim these photos to be mine.