Our aim during Lent is something like a wilderness experience. We want to shake up our lives significantly enough that when we reach for our usual comforts and grasp a fistful of air, we are forced to cling to Christ – his body, his blood. We want to see just how upside down our world really is as our “important things” prove to be perishable goods, as the light shines on our “righteousness” and exposes the layers of “self” beneath the surface, and as our “busy” lives are shown to simply lack wisdom.
The desire is a new lease on life, a view into the vast world of God, a deep breath and long look above the tree line of self-absorption. So in Lent we focus on getting away from the life of flesh and into the life of the Spirit, denying our ways and embracing God’s.
The point of giving things up is not to be reminded of how much we miss them, but rather to be awakened to how much we miss God and long for his life-giving Spirit. This means, of course, that Lent is not only about giving up things. It is also about adding things, God-things.
- Having given up junk food for a healthy diet, what will you do with the energy you gain?
- Having given up reading magazines, what will you read now?
- Having given up Facebook, to whom will you devote meaningful conversation?
- Having given up lunch, how will you rely on God for the strength of “food from heaven”?
- Having given up TV as a default activity, how will you use that time to cultivatequality family time?
- Having given up isolation, how will you immerse yourself in community?
- Having given up shopping, will you see those who need clothing in your city?
- Having sacrificed whatever form of selfishness you indulge, how will you meet the needs of others?
The practice of giving something up for Lent is a way of entering into the wilderness with Jesus. Don’t worry about whether or not your sacrifice is a good one. It’s not a contest. Just make your aim to know Christ more fully, and trust him to lead you. Seek to replace that thing with devotion to Christ—his Word and his mission. God may lead you to give up and take up more as you go. That’s good. Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Jesus.
(Adapted from Journey to the Cross: Readings and Devotions for Lent, pp. 13-15)
Entry adapted from Central Territorial Lenten Resources