Monday, March 8, 2010

Thoughts on Lent

I was talking to my Mom recently and mentioned something about what I had given up for Lent. She told me that she really didn't understand why people gave up "silly" things for Lent and that giving up a Coke was really a trivial thing. She said that people should give up something that is that is more significant and "bad", such as talking ugly about other people. Well, my first instinct was to jump all over her and tell her it's that it's not trivial and that I really need want that Coke. And, shamefully, I did that a little bit.

But then I decided to take a step back and explain my feelings on it. I decided I'd share them here, also.

First of all, I have never given up anything for Lent that I consider a sin. Obviously, there are sins that are common to all, but there are also personal sins and if something is taking the place of Christ in my life then it is SIN. So, anything that is blatantly wrong (e.g. "talking ugly about other people") or anything that I have been personally convicted is a sin in my life is not an option for a Lenten sacrifice. Here is why- I should give up those things the moment I realize their presence in my life. I am not going to sit around and wait until Lent to give up something that is hindering my walk with the Lord.

Okay, so Minnie wanted to know, why, then, give up anything?

The thing is, a ritual of giving up something isn't going to make me any more holy than I was before. In fact, since we know that salvation cannot be found through works, the actual act of the sacrifice is largely irrelevant.

The extent to which the sacrifice draws me to the foot of the cross is the extent to which is produces holiness in myself.

When I am going through the day and feel the minor hurt of missing a caffeinated beverage, my heart is pricked to think about the terrible pain that God the Father and Christ himself went through for me. It is just a reminder, a little prompt, to keep my thoughts focused on the upcoming events of Good Friday.

That said, I have told several people this: no Lenten sacrifice has brought me closer to Golgotha than looking into the eyes of my own daughter. I have gotten teary several times in the last few weeks thinking about it. I am not saying that you have to have your own child to come face to face with your salvation in a powerful way. But it is the instrument God has used in my life. On April 2 of last year, I began to have a completely different understanding of God's saving work in my life.

I wrote about it in more detail last year around Easter and I will be republishing that post because the words are even more true this year, but it's really an inexplicable feeling in many ways. To look at her and feel my heart nearly burst with love and then to realize than my imperfect love for her could only be a small reflection of God's love for his own child and that he gave his "only begotten Son"....

Like I said, inexplicable. It is really too much for words.

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.


The Niemeyer Nest said...

Great post! Coke is hard and you are right when you get the urge for a coke it reminds you of Jesus making the ultimate choice to die for us. I gave up Facebook - trivial maybe but I know that I was spending too much time on there instead of taking care of my house during Evie's nap.

Peyton said...

Also to add, Lent is a time of special reflection on ourselves and where we are in our spiritual walk. True it is something we should constantly do, but we are human. We set aside this time; much like we set aside time for a spiritual retreat- to reflect upon our lives and how we are living them. This is what makes some give up "sins" or unhealthy spiritual habits during Lent. They take extra time to reflect and they realize the habits are there.

Christy said...

I love this post.

I know this sounds horribly uneducated but until recently I have never paid any attention to Lent. It was never something Baptists do or even talk about. It is so interesting to read about it from others perspectives. This post was beautiful.

Amy said...

Great post! I thought this was very well written and you relayed your thoughts on the matter extremely well. Thank you for sharing and I 100% agree....having your own child DOES give the sacrifice made by our Savior that much more humbling and gives "grace" a whole new meaning!

Tiffany said...

This was so well said and i can tell it came from your heart. And that is what this is all about, preparing the heart for the season. It doesn't matter if it looks like what others think it should look like the Bible tells us God does not look at the things man looks at (like the outward appearance.) God looks at the heart. And if something as simple as giving up a coke makes you think about Him more and thank Him a little more -then Amen sister. You made so many good points here about how our children help us connect with our Lord's sacrifice more, how we should stop any sin immediately when we recognize that we're in the midst of it, and experiencing holiness at the foot of the cross. Good good stuff here. I wish other people understood it more. I'm still learning. There's so much focus on the sacrifice or giving up of something. It's also a time to give more! Emma at Charming the Birds from the trees said it very well in how she is observing Lent with her children... helping them with daily prayer, fasting (by placing one favorite food- one per child- into a basket each day and then emptying the basket in their church's food pantry box each Sunday, and almsgiving by placing coins in a jar or piggy bank throughout the week and then placing that in the money box for the poor at their church on Sunday. -She inspired me to reach out to an elderly lady down the street. Trey and Anna Grace helped me make homemade veggie soup, rolls, and fruit salad to bring to her along with fresh flowers. She's 93 and living alone, and when we went to visit her Trey gave her the flowers and told her Jesus loves her. She was so touched she invited us in. It was a blessing for both of us. I love this post, and I hope you don't mind, but I'd like to link to it in a post I'm about to do. ~Blessings!

Sarah Denley said...

TIff- of course I don't mind! And thank you for your kind words and great ideas!