I always want to make a joke about Lent. You know like Lent in my dryer or something. I should probably be more reverent of such an important season of the church, but somehow I just don't FEEL LENTY! I'm not really sure why that is.
Each year I know its coming. It follows the Christmas stuff and takes us to the Easter Tide season. Forty days (not counting Sundays of course because they are already holy enough I guess) of something leading up to Easter. Fat Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, etc.
And each year I hear people say they are going to "give up" this or that. You know like cheeseburgers, cold beer ( I have no idea why anyone would give up this ), sodas, golf, or something important like that. I usually joke that I am going to give up cigarettes for Lent. I don't smoke cigarettes. Not much of a sacrifice huh?
So what is the big deal anyway of giving something up? I think as a child or younger adult I tried on occasion to give up something, only to fail miserably. Sort of like New Year's resolutions - doomed to failure. So does this make me a bad christian? I can't even give something up for forty days for Jesus? I guess it does in some respect. But somehow I think it has something a little deeper in meaning that we aren't grasping by giving up something so irrelevant to our spiritual well-being as a soda.
Matthew 4:1-11 tells of Jesus' time fasting and praying in the wilderness for a period described as 40 days. Yes, the same time period as Lent. Whether it was a physical 40 days or just a biblical way of saying a long time (40 days is used a lot in the bible), it tells of Jesus denying himself food, focusing on God, and not giving in to the temptations presented to him. This is a little larger than a soda huh?
I think that if one was really wanting to give up something for Lent, it should be something meaningful. Something really sacrificial beyond self. For me, that would be time. What would happen if I gave up, say, my Friday mornings to go work on a horse ranch to help disabled/autistic kiddos? My best friend Rick Diamond does this every week. What if I gave up my Thursday evenings to go help at a crisis center? What if I gave up Saturday mornings to help at Habitat for Humanity? What if I gave up something that is meaningful or selfish to me (time) and gave that to someone else?
Lent. My forty days to consider the ways of Christ. The temptations to give into, the things to overcome. My selfishness. I still have a ways to go I believe. ~NPP