In all of my 37 years of life, I have never observed Lent. Or at least I have never faithfully observed the season of Lent. There have been a few times when I decided to give Lent a try, but I never stuck to it. I never purposefully set aside the 40 days preceding Easter as a time for reflecting upon Christ's life, sacrifice, suffering, death, burial and resurrection. That confession may shock and sadden some of you. It saddens me.
My reasons for avoiding Lent ranged from not being Catholic to being highly cognizant of legalism. I also associated Lent with giving something up as a way of acknowledging all that Christ gave up for me. While that is not necessarily untrue, that line of reasoning made it difficult for me to submit to a 40-day sacrifice of my own.
I thought that giving up something as insignificant as...let's say...dark chocolate to remember and honor Christ's willingness to submit to a torturous death cheapened Good Friday. Anything I considered giving up was downright puny in comparison to what Jesus gave away for me. So, being the good perfectionist that I was...I nixed the idea of observing Lent every time I heard someone reference abstaining from something beloved to them.
Several days ago, I began to think some more about Lent and, once again, thought about "trying it." And then, once again, could not think of something valid to give up. The more I pondered, the clearer the truth resonated. As a follower of Christ, I am called to sacrifice. But I am called to give up something far more valuable than caffeine, sugar or Facebook.
In Matthew 16: 24-26 Jesus said "If anyone wants to follow me, he must say no to himself. He must pick up his cross and follow me. He who wants to save his own life will lose it. But he who loses his life for me will find it."
I am commanded to give up myself. And not just for 40 days.
I am asked to give away
my selfish wants
You may now be thinking that I have decided (once again) to not observe Lent, but I actually came to an different conclusion. Although I will not be giving up an item, I will be giving up (or trying to give up) parts of myself that prevent me from clinging to Christ. I plan to observe Lent as a season for reflecting specifically on Christ's life, death and resurrection and on ways that I can better love Him and others. For the next 40 days, I am committing to writing a blog post here that focuses on the season (I have found that I spend more time in scripture when I blog than when I do not). The posts may not be profound or well written...but they will be intended as a way to keep me accountable as I strive to spend more time learning how to give up me.
(Please know that by writing this post, I am not in anyway chastising you if you have chosen to give up something for Lent. I completely respect how that doing so is a way of worship for many...and I think that is beautiful. I encourage everyone to draw close to God and take time to reflect upon the sacrifices made by His only son.)