I did not grow up in a religion that follows Lent. I never even knew about Lent until a few years ago. I do, however, like the concept of Lent.
An online article, The True Meaning of Lent (http://rcg.org/articles/ttmol.html) described Lent:
From Ash Wednesday to Easter, many solemnly mark their foreheads with ash, “fasting” (or abstaining from certain foods or physical pleasures) for 40 days. This is done to supposedly imitate Jesus Christ’s 40-day fast in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1-2). Some give up smoking. Others give up chewing gum. Still others give up over-eating or cursing. People vow to give up anything, as long as it prepares them for Easter.
The reason a lot of people choose to “give something up” through fasting, abstinence, etc. is so they can prepare themselves for Easter. The True Meaning of Lent article quoted the Catholic Encylopedia:
the real aim of Lent is, above all else, to prepare men for the celebration of the death and Resurrection of Christ…the better the preparation the more effective the celebration will be. One can effectively relive the mystery only with purified mind and heart. The purpose of Lent is to provide that purification by weaning men from sin and selfishness through self-denial and prayer, by creating in them the desire to do God’s will and to make His kingdom come by making it come first of all in their hearts.”
That sounds like a very sincere belief. But does giving something up make me pure of heart? Does it prepare me for the celebration of death and Resurrection of Christ? Hmmmmm….not really. Giving something up does not purify me from sin and selfishness and create in me the desire to do God’s will.
In fact…It’s kind of doing the opposite.
I have now gone 5 days with no eating out (since Wednesday), and the last thing on my mind is being purified from sin and selfishness. I really want to go sink my teeth into some hot, crunchy sweet potato fries from Red Robin. I feel selfish and weak…and Damn It! There are 35 days to go!!! How am I going to make it? How do people do this? Is it really God’s will for me not to eat out? I know I shouldn’t. My fitness trainer and nutritionist would love it if I actually did it. Eating out is a very bad habit of mine and one that I really need to break – along with my addiction to sugar and taking advantage of cheat meals. But for some reason, and I don’t know what it is…I keep wanting to eat the stuff I know I shouldn’t. And yea, even though I have lost over 100 pounds – this is still a daily struggle for me. and possibly the very reason I hit a plateau – with only 30 more pounds to lose.
I like what Paul wrote in Romans 7
5 In fact, I don’t understand why I act the way I do. I don’t do what I know is right. I do the things I hate. 16 Although I don’t do what I know is right, I agree that the Law is good. 17 So I am not the one doing these evil things. The sin that lives in me is what does them. 18I know that my selfish desires won’t let me do anything that is good. Even when I want to do right, I cannot. 19 Instead of doing what I know is right, I do wrong. 20 And so, if I don’t do what I know is right, I am no longer the one doing these evil things. The sin that lives in me is what does them. 21 The Law has shown me that something in me keeps me from doing what I know is right. 22 With my whole heart I agree with the Law of God. 23 But in every part of me I discover something fighting against my mind, and it makes me a prisoner of sin that controls everything I do. 24 What a miserable person I am. Who will rescue me from this body that is doomed to die? 25 Thank God! Jesus Christ will rescue me.
So – even though in the Bible, Jesus and his disciples did not practice Lent…I still think it is a good time of year to put some foolish habits to rest. Lean on God’s strength and not mine. It’s going to take a mind transformation – from being negative to being positive – from I can’t do this – to I’ve got this! And Hey! Who knows maybe by Easter I can weigh 10 pounds less and break a plateau.
Psalm 51:17 – The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.
So here’s to not eating out for another 35 days and tweaking my diet a little bit more to get rid of the sugar… I’ve got this.