lent? question mark?

okay, yall.


my friend anastasia asked my thoughts yesterday and i was like, 'do i have thoughts on lent?'  i still don't really know the answer.  but what is blogging for, other than acting like an internet expert on stuff you know nothing about?

i'll tell you straight up that i forgot lent starts tomorrow.  but in my defense (??), i also forgot finneas' birthday is on i guess all that really shows is that i use precious brain space remembering how to vinegar-off hard water deposits on a shower head and not on important dates and seasons.  so there's that.

but anyway, here are my strewn-about thoughts on lent: 

first, i think it's weird when people say their main motivation is that they're sacrificing something because jesus sacrificed for them.  i mean, i think that can be used as an illustration in our sacrifice, but i suspect it shouldn't be the only, or even the main, reason we abstain from stuff.  grace is free.  jesus' sacrifice doesn't have to be payed back.  we don't owe him anything for it.  and a good thing, too, because since when could our sacrifice of 'giving up brownies for forty days' measure up to his sacrifice of 'becoming sin and being murdered so that we could be reconciled to god?'  what could we ever do that realistically comes close to that?

if it's being used as a shadow, an illustration, a gentle reminder of the true reality, then great.  but if it's being used as an opportunity to pay jesus back for what he's done, or somehow give you a sense of ownership or control in your own righteousness, it seems a bit... mocking.  condescending.  grace-averse.  so that's just a nudge to examine your heart if the tit-for-tat mentality seems to ring a bit true.

i personally see lenten sacrifice more along the lines of a traditional fast, which i'm also not an expert on, but i'll give it a whirl with a couple of official-looking numberings:

1.  giving up a basic need (like food) or a not-so-basic need (like sweets or TV time or whatever) for a set amount of time gives us a chance to rely on jesus in a way we wouldn't otherwise.  it's not food that truly satisfies and sustains us; it's not TV time that gives true rest.  it's jesus.  it's a great exercise in looking beyond the gifts to the Giver for our sustenance.

2.  it teaches us self-control.  there's a ton of value in learning to tell yourself 'no.'  even something as small as brownies can enslave us if we can't tell ourselves 'no,' and choosing to abstain for a while helps strengthen that 'no' muscle that is so necessary in a life of discipline.  brownies might seem unspiritual in and of themselves, but when used to help grow in us the fruit of the spirit that is self-control, they can be profoundly spiritual.  spiritual brownies!  who'd have thought?  (maybe some people would have thought, but i'd submit that they might've been on drugs.)

3.  the urge to partake in whatever we're abstaining from, either due to habit or craving, is a regular reminder to draw close to god.  to remember his sacrifice and thank him for reconciliation.  if you're giving up chocolate and you're really craving chocolate, that's your cue to draw close to god in prayer.  and i think, in praying through the midst of sacrifice and denial, we're in a position to communicate with god on a level that is sometimes obscured otherwise.  i think it can lend itself toward a really sweet season of communication and connection with our loving god.

4.  it shouldn't be entered into out of 'ought.'  everything about our righteousness that should be or could be earned already has been.  if we've been hidden in christ, we can't do anything to improve our standing or image in the sight of the father; likewise, we can't do anything that undermines our standing in front of god.  we have been given full righteousness, not because of what we choose to do or not do, but because of what jesus has done for us.  we can enter into obedience and discipline gladly and freely in response, and will hopefully want to, but we don't have to.  (and just doing it because everyone around you expects you to is an equally unnecessary attempt to vie for status and standing in the world's eyes.  just throwing that out as well.)

i'm sure there's a ton more to be said in terms of soberly preparing your heart for easter and the resurrection, and remembering the years of darkness and void before jesus burst onto the scene of history and in our lives, and probs tons more that more qualified and spiritual and intelligent people could explain better.  but those are my immediate thoughts regarding lent.

all that being said, i still don't know if i'll choose to give anything up.  yeah, i know lent starts tomorrow, but that gives me like 24 hours before i have to have decided, right?  do i think i could really benefit from it?  definitely.  deep down, do i want to?  honestly, i don't.  should this christian life just exist in terms of 'do i feel like it'?  no.  so i really don't know how this will play out in my own life.  if you are a bettin' man, feel free to take a guess.

are you giving up/adding anything for lent?  what, and why?


todd said...

God has gifted you with a sharp mind my love.

You are wise and witty and dare I say, wacky.


I don’t dare.

Sarah said...

I'm giving up candy crush. I thought about giving up complaining, but my husband says since that is a sin it would be kind of weird to fast from... it sounds a lot easier to give up complaining for 6.5 weeks than for forever anyways I'm giving up candy crush.

Anastasia said...

Thanks, Paige! I appreciate your thoughts, nicely clarifying on some points. I ended up deciding to memorize Psalm 40, which will most likely require giving up some reading time. I also want to give up complaining about the temperature--and hopefully stop it for good!