I have decided that I am undecided on Lent—at least the side of Lent that beckons us to give up something for the sake of: what? Waistlines? Productivity? The sense of virtue we get by saying no to the doughnut at work or the second glass of wine at dinner?
The intention for Lent is preparation for Easter, a holiday that proclaims that we are ultimately incapable of discovering God, planning our lives, finding purpose, or practicing any kind of self-development outside of the help of God in Jesus. God does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Giving up something for Lent, then, is less about the picture of our life we have planned and more about shedding the baggage that keeps us from God. How in the world do we do that?
Honestly, I don’t know. Each person might have a different answer to the question. But rather than spending forty days avoiding coffee or fending off the desire to wander onto Facebook, consider exploring what keeps you from God.
- Is it busyness? Practice sabbath. Commit to coming to worship every week during Lent; say the Lord’s prayer before you rush out the door in the morning; or sit on your porch for a few minutes a day doing absolutely nothing. Someone once asked Mother Theresa what she did to pray. She said, “I listen.” What does God do, her questioner wondered. “He listens.”
- Is it stuff? Give up something you own every day. Learn not to hold onto the things you have to tightly. Consider coming to Sunday School during Lent as we explore what the Bible teaches us about money and possessions.
- Is it doubt? Come to worship. Acknowledge your need for God’s help through Wednesday Ashes (tonight at 6:00 p.m.) or Maundy Thursday communion. Let the church help you find a way through the wilderness.
This is not an exhaustive list (obviously). But it’s a start. That’s all Lent is. It’s an invitation to start walking knowing that God will carry us the rest of the way.