“What are you giving up for Lent?” This question often receives a reply like, “I am giving up coffee for Lent.” My pre-lenten thinking has directed me to a different answer.
My answer to “What are you giving up for Lent?” is “Nothing.”
Lent has never really done anything for me. Lent didn’t live for me, die for me or become incarnated for me. Lent wasn’t there in my darkest hour, didn’t help me or heal me or pick me up when I stumbled and fell. Lent never dried my painful tears.
Sometimes it seems like I have my real life and then for about 40 days I have my Lenten life.
Lent, for me, should be part of the whole. The call to repent, renew, and walk humbly with God should be part of my daily life that is simply highlighted and magnified during my lenten fasting, abstention, and prayer.
“This Lenten season, what are you giving up for Jesus?” is an entirely different question.
I am not sure I am hitting the bull’s eye when I “give up iced tea” for Lent and then think about iced tea all day every day, nearly drown myself in iced tea on the Sundays of Lent and immediately go back to drinking iced tea on Resurrection Sunday.
If giving up iced tea is something that pleases Jesus, then I should not only take iced tea away from my lips during Lent but everyday throughout the year because pleasing Him is my deepest desire.
One of the things I notice is that during Lent I make temporary changes that I allow to become a sense of permanent improvement. I feel way more like Jesus, but all I really am is the exact same person I was before Lent.
This Lenten season I am attempting to make the leap from temporary to permanent. I feel it will permanently honor the Lord for me to eat a more nutritionally sound diet. It therefore makes sense to begin, during Lent, to make the initial changes necessary for permanent God honoring nutritional change.
Sin in me needs to be totally and completely mortified, not just for forty days, but for the rest of my life journey. Unfortunately, giving up coffee for Lent won’t help solve the sin issues of my soul. Only permanent repentance will.
As I fast, abstain, reflect, renew and pray, I trust the Lord to show me a specific action that He wants me to make permanent in my life for His name’s sake. What He shows me won’t be easy to do because permanent change that pleases God is always difficult.
After all, if it is only temporary, what is the point?