Posted by: bellissimanh | February 23, 2012

Living Lent

 

I’ve never celebrated (is that even the right word?) Lent. Up until a few years ago I didn’t even know what it was, and after, since I’ve been moving in Baptist circles, it was never talked about. I’m not sure why. Part of me sometimes thinks that protestant denominations just want to put as much distance between themselves and the Catholic Church as possible. They view its practices as ritualistic, with little to no true meaning… and I think Lent falls into that category as far as they’re concerned (and I’m speaking of the organizations I’ve been involved in, not necessarily ALL protestant churches).

Truth be told, my husband grew up Catholic and told me today that although he did observe Lent as a boy, it never meant anything to him at all. Maybe the Baptists were right and there’s nothing to this. At the same time, I believe that everything we do is rooted in our motivation. Just because so many have held meaningless observances, does that mean that any celebration of Lent is void of value? I don’t think so.

I have felt the Lord calling me this week… gently, lovingly – but firmly… to embrace this discipline and seek Him in the thing. I would hear of others and what they were “giving up” for Lent, and feel Him whisper, “And you? What will you sacrifice?”

Yesterday I read a beautiful blog post by Ann Voskamp on this subject, and the Lord used it to confirm what I already knew Him to be calling me to. A season of self-denial. A time of focusing on Christ, my Beloved, and the sacrifice He made for me. Through His suffering, I’ve experienced the joy of salvation. Because of His obedience to death on a cross, I’ve been given new life – eternal and abundant life.

How could I not give up ONE thing for forty days, after all He’s given for me? So while I’m jumping in a couple of days later than most of the world, I’m believing that my obedience and my heart’s desire will be honored by the Lord… and I’m trusting with confidence that He is going to use this season to not only prepare my heart for drinking in His death and resurrection in a fresh and deeper way, but also to draw me closer to Himself.

Here’s where it gets a little strange. In praying about what I should forego during this season of Lent, several things popped into my head, but were quickly dismissed. I thought of giving up chocolate, as so many do, but to me… that’s not really a sacrifice. First of all, chocolate is a treat, not a staple… and it’s not something I eat a lot of anyway. Next I contemplated staying away from sugar for the next forty days, but I thought it would be next to impossible since so many things contain sugar that I don’t even think about. I was pretty sure it would be tough to separate that out and stay true to my commitment. In the end, I decided on (are you ready for this?)… butter. My husband was surprised, but then I explained to him that butter is something I really enjoy. I put butter on everything from toast to vegetables and potatoes. I will have to learn to cook differently. I will not be having my traditional toast with butter as an evening snack. I will notice its absence from my diet and will, on some level, feel deprived. It’s something that I will really miss, and each time I do, I will remember His sacrifice for me. The drops of blood He sweat in the garden. The horrific beating He took at the hands of sinful men. His excruciating path to the cross. The intense pain of loneliness and abandonment He experienced during His separation from His Father. For me. And for you.

 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,  but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,  that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,  and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:5-11

How about you? How do you celebrate this season leading up to Easter? Do you have any family traditions?

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Responses

  1. I really enjoyed reading your blog. It reminded me of one of my favorite Scriptures. Matthew 6:33-Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.

  2. Great passage! Yes… seeking Him first. Always. Blessings!

  3. I am thrilled to have found your blog! I am a 25-year old single woman from the Philippines, and have also been thinking about what to give up this Lent. I realized that what I really enjoy the most is TEA. Iced tea, milk tea, hot tea… and coffee. I’ve decided to sacrifice coffee since Ash Wednesday (the beginning of Lent), but I realized that I’ve resorted to milk tea to pacify my cravings for coffee. I will miss it a lot, but it will indeed help me focus on what the Lord has done for me out of His tremendous love. Thank you for posting! 🙂

  4. Jodie – I love your commitment! So many would give up coffee and let it go… I pray the Lord will bless you much for your willingness to go without in an effort to focus on Him. 🙂


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