I’m ashamed to say this, but Lent has always been about me. Sure, I would make the sacrifice “for God,” but only if I got something out of it.
Give up alcohol: gain some evening productivity.
Give up Starbucks: gain a wad of cash I can blow on something else that catches my eye.
Give up dessert: lose a few lbs.
Our society has turned Lent into some sort of deprivation experiment that has nothing to do with Jesus. And I’ve always been right there in the mix, but this year has been extraordinarily trying and somehow forgoing cupcakes for a few weeks has no chance of transforming this weary heart of mine.
See I’ve been in a walking boot 2 out of the last 5 months. It’s a pain and I’ve spent most of the last 9 months chomping at the bit to get back to running, the one athletic activity I really enjoy. The trouble is that my body has been saying NO! I have been injured and annoyed, but God used this most recent month in the boot to teach me something beautiful. Exercise had become an idol, so much so that I was now unable to throw my kids in the stroller for even a walk. My idol had started stealing from me.
Thankfully, The Lord disciplines those he loves.
Don’t get me wrong, I hated every minute of the boot, but by the time it came off, God had rearranged my priorities. Sure, I want to be healthy and fit, but more than that I want to be able to chase my kids around the yard and crawl into play huts with the rest of their stuffed animals. I want ability to hike around the creek near our house at their speed, to make dinner for sick neighbors and serve in the nursery. In short, I want to use my body to glorify God not myself.
So, when I started thinking about Lent this year, the best thing I could think of giving up was myself. For 40 days I will say NO to my “perfect” schedule and plans. Instead of putting my agenda and desires first, I will no longer miss those precious minutes of singing songs in the driveway with my son. I will kneel down to marvel at a buttercup in my yard with my little ones instead of racing inside to cross the next thing off my list.
During this Lenten season, I will sacrifice my ideas of how I think my world should look and be willing to receive something different; a different life. And part of saying no to me is saying yes to Him. I want these 40 days to be a true preparing of my soul and denying of myself. I will deny because I know He satisfies and because I want Jesus more than I want anything else; fitness and a perfect body, marathon medals around my neck, your good opinion of me or any of the other shiny trinkets the world dangles before me.
Matthew 16:24 (NIV) Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.