I don’t remember ever practicing Lent. Growing up Baptist it wasn’t something that we “did”. Not that there is anything wrong with Lent. In fact, I like the idea of giving up something that controls a person in order to focus on her relationship with Jesus. My desire is to do that constantly, whenever I feel the Holy Spirit tugging on my conscience, letting me know something’s off kilter.
Also, I’ve seen so many people say they’re “giving up” something for Lent almost like an extended challenge from their New Year’s resolutions. A will power challenge to see if they were determined enough to get through the 40 days. Or it’s just a “religious” maneuver they either had to do because of their religion or a habit that was a hold over from childhood (when they were forced to do it). There is no actual faith behind the decision.
Allison from The Displaced Texan gives an outstanding explanation about what exactly is Lent. What does it mean? What are the implications of practicing Lent? Is it more than just a holiday to give up sugar?
After reading her post I’ve been inspired to indeed practice Lent this year. I constantly strive to seek a deeper relationship with Christ. Sometimes I’m good about it, mostly I’m woefully lacking. Taking time to seek a deeper connection to God should always be welcome to me. Why shouldn’t this specific 40 days, no matter what other people use the time for?
Allison makes a great point about the actual goal of Lent (emphasis mine):
If you choose to give up something for Lent, but in doing so you find that it does not help you in growing in your relationship with Christ, then you shouldn’t really bother. In fact, I have found that giving up chocolate or candy or something like that doesn’t really help me grow closer to God. Instead of giving something up, I usually try to do something extra like set aside time to do a Bible study each day or visit the chapel for prayer. I find this to be more productive in improving my walk with Christ! But everyone is different, so the bottom line is that you should do whatever it is that brings you closer to Him!
*this year, I plan to give up Facebook, and replace my Facebook time with prayer or Bible time instead*
God has been working on me lately about speaking and acting (and typing) in love. It would be great for me to spend extra time in His word and talking with Him to help me improve myself. I do not plan to fast from food for Lent. I do fast any time during the year if I feel God calling me to do that. I, like Allison, am going to give up Facebook and Twitter. I usually try to keep up with both while I’m schooling Reagan, while I’m out running errands or at night after crawling into bed. Whenever I feel the urge to get on either I’m going to use that moment to pray instead. Paul tells us to pray without ceasing. I’m praying that this will remind me more constantly to be in prayer.
My goal also is not to indulge in social media to drunken excess today either. The tradition that has become Mardi Gras is completely debase and slaps in the face of drawing closer to Christ. It’s one more example of how current culture has taken something somewhat sacred* and made it profane.
*I would argue that the tradition of mardi gras can’t really be considered sacred or righteous. I could see how, in bygone years, it was a time when people might be thinking ahead about their fasting and either wanted to finish what rich and fatty foods they had in the house (so as not to let them go to waste) or wanted to get one last good taste before they would go without for over a month. The latter reason’s sacredness would be suspect to me as the people probably would not be focused on the beneficial sacrifice of the next 40 days. It would be more of an attitude of, “well, we’re not getting this tasty food for a month, better get it while we can!”