The Season of Generous Sacrifice

I’ve been observing Lent for several years. Started out like most people, I heard about it and someone said I was supposed to fast from chocolate. I did. I was miserable and angry. For a few more years I fasted various things that someone told me I “should”. One year we decided to fast from tv as a family. We aren’t big tv watchers and at the time we only really cared about American Idol. So we Dvr’d it and watched it on Sundays, since you aren’t supposed to fast on Sundays during Lent.

One Sunday afternoon as we sat down to watch our shows, Anthony asked what we “actually doing” by “fasting” but still watching it on Sunday. He questioned if we were actually accomplishing anything. At first I was just annoyed, nobody likes to be Jesus Juked by your pre-teen son. Eventually it started a process of really pondering and thinking through what was happening and I why I was participating in something just because someone told me I “should”. What’s the point, what am I actually doing during Lent?

A couple of years later a friend and I decided to give up Facebook. I think it was her son that challenged us {seriously, what’s up with kids? 😉 } We decided to take Facebook off our phones but we also decided that every time we picked up our phones to check FB we would open YouVersion and read scripture instead. Definitely a step in a better direction.

I love Lent. I also love Ash Wednesday and the imparting of Ashes and liturgies. I love things of old and traditions. I don’t love doing things because someone thinks we should. I want to receive ashes on Ash Wednesday because I understand they symbolize the finiteness of this world, of my life, they symbolize that sometimes we think we know what’s going on, like Palm Sunday, and really we just don’t have a clue what’s coming, like Black Friday. I love getting to speak liturgies with a congregation of other believers, because I love words, they have power and meaning and life. I have grown to love Lent because its a time for me to set somethings aside to draw near to my Savior. It’s 40 days of denying myself, not because someone said I should, not with irritation or anger, not just saving it up to indulge on Sunday, but truly denying myself, for the soul sake of seeking Christ. I do not believe for one second that I’m going to arrive at the Pearly Gates and Jesus is going to be like, “Hey, I really like the way you observed Lent, giving up that chocolate during the week like you did, well done!” I am fully aware that He is unimpressed with my legalistic rule following, checklist all checked because of “shoulds”,
begrudgingly meeting the requirements of an obligation, or trading my sacrifice for a later indulgence.

I do believe with my whole heart, that if I give up chocolate and every time I think of eating it, I instead turn my heart and mind to Jesus, even if it’s just to say, “Lord, help me not to devour this chocolate. Jesus, my spirit is strong but, oh my goodness, my flesh is weak, I need you.” 40 days of turning to Jesus every time I think of chocolate….y’all that’s A WHOLE LOT! I know without a doubt our old time rituals can glorify Jesus to the utmost, when that is my purpose for the “ritual”. If I use my checklist to help me stay on task so I can make sure I can sit fully present in His presence, then check away!

So, I invite you to observe Lent with me! Give up something. It can be anything you want it to be, make it something challenging, but don’t go all, “I’m only drinking water for 40 days”. Probably need to save that for when the Lord sends you to the wilderness. Whatever it is, whatever it looks like, make sure what you are putting in it’s place is love, grace, mercy and Jesus, anything else ruins Lent; makes it a fruitless ritual. Y’all I ain’t got time to be wasting on anything that doesn’t bear fruit and seriously, do I
{YOU} really want to consider giving up something we enjoy to just be annoyed and frustrated at the end? I give up chocolate or sugar or meats & sweets for 40 Days, I need it to bear witness that I have been in the Lord’s presence continually for 40 days! Can I get an amen?!?

I have decided to give up scrolling social media so that I can spend that time reading His word. I’m doing a YouVersion reading plan, the New Testament in 40 days! I’ve also committed to being generous during Lent. It’s one of those things that I wonder why I haven’t been doing it this way all along. For God so loved that He GAVE…if that’s what our minds and hearts should be dwelling on during Lent, wouldn’t it stand to reason that we should be people who live generous lives, especially during Lent!?!? I’ve also created a GroupMe group so that we can encourage and support one another during this Lent season. We will share our Lent reflections, acts of generosity and hopefully lots of photos and love! You are invited to join either or both!

If observing Lent isn’t for you, that’s absolutely ok. It doesn’t have to be. If reading the New Testament in 40 days is a bit much for you in this season of life, don’t do it. Do Lent in whatever way draws you closer to understanding the Father’s love for you. Whatever way helps you understand the cross in a new or deeper way. Whatever is going to be the thing, at the end of the 40 Days that you know will have deepened your faith, grown your relationship with Jesus, the thing you can hear Jesus saying “Well done good and faithful servant” not because you managed to legalistically meet the requirements of lent, but because you humbled yourself through fasting and you sought Him, daily, for your strength, provision and hope.

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