This is the first year that I have given much thought to the season of Lent. I have been a member of a Christian denomination that does not usually participate in this mainstream practice. However, during the past few years, I have been studying and learning about the Christian year that most mainstream Protestant churches follow and I have come to appreciate the practices. I have come to value them so much that I could even get comfortable with using a lectionary! SBC FORBID! (lol!) So, this year, our worship pastor has challenged us to participate in Lent and has even provided daily devotionals for us to use.
The first week, we were to consider giving up something for the 40 days before Easter. Not just to give up something for the sake of giving it up, but for the purpose of filling our hearts and souls with the truth & presence of God. So, for two weeks I’ve tried to decide what to do without during this time. It had to be more than chocolate, even though the thought of being without it does make me a bit crazy. It had to be more than caffeine – I could still have all the things I consume that contain it – just the caffeine-free variety. But what? What is so consuming that if I were to be without it, it would cause me to fall to my knees and truly communicate with God to meet my need.
And then it hit me…I knew what had to go.
But what had to go was something so constraining that my first day without it was only managed through prayer. And yes, the enemy attacked almost immediately and I was confronted with the decision to leave it lying there…gasping for breath and begging to be rescued. It was hard, it was painful and I literally had to talk myself through the attack, all the while, relying on God to keep his word to never leave me or forsake me…especially not now.
What I had to give up is something so dear, so precious, and so beloved that it aches to think about it not being a part of my everyday thoughts and actions. To let it die, without even attempting to help it live, was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done…and yet, one of the most freeing. I have prayed for God to deliver me from this albatross for a long time, but I have come to realize that faith on my part is what pleases God and moves His heart to respond. And after the first day of living without this heavy, heavy chain, I feel…hope, real hope.
I am sure you’re asking, “What did you give up?”
The vice that I gave up for Lent this year is…me. My identity, my desire to be known, my need to be acknowledged and loved and noticed.
Lord, I believe…help my unbelief…be ALL to me.