Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Why Lent? Because something's gotta give.

I have been a follower of Christ for nearly 20 years, and never have I ever even really considered observing Lent, the forty day period that leads up to Easter Sunday. I've always considered it more of a "Catholic tradition," and it's never drawn more than a passing consideration from me. Honestly I didn't "get it," and the whole idea of the debauchery and craziness of "Fat Tuesday" (aka Mardi Gras) always put me off so much I just dismissed it.

This year, however, I am not only not dismissing it, but I am strongly considering deciding to participate. If you follow this blog at all, you are probably aware that this has been a difficult season for me, one of both transition and struggle, and I've been suffering a bit of what you could probably label a sort of identity crisis.

I have to be careful with that term though. Let me be clear, I know exactly who I am in Christ. I understand who God says I am, what He's done for me, and I have no doubt that that is the reality of who I am defined as as a person.... HOWEVER, there is a disconnect between my confident scriptural awareness and the struggle of sensing it as I walk out my Walk of Faith. There is a glitch there, and I need something, somehow, to work it out.

So what exactly is Lent? I've been searching and researching, and I found a website that I think defines best why I feel the need to participate this year. It says: "Today, Lent is marked by a time of prayer and preparation to celebrate Easter. Since Sundays celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, the six Sundays that occur during Lent are not counted as part of the 40 days of Lent, and are referred to as the Sundays in Lent. The number 40 is connected with many biblical events, but especially with the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness preparing for His ministry by facing the temptations that could lead him to abandon his mission and calling. Christians today use this period of time for introspection, self examination, and repentance." (emphasis mine)

Something's gotta give in my life right now, and I honestly don't know what it is. I've been examining and evaluating and probably over thinking myself into spiritual and emotional exhaustion, and I feel so worn out. I do not see rebellious sin in my life, if anything I am trying with all I am to draw close and seek the Lord. Whether I am in a desert or a season of stretching or sifting, I do not know. I have been through all of these things before in my 20 years following Jesus, but the thing about them, is you often don't know for sure if that's where you were until you come out and look back on it from the other side. All of those seasons are a bit disorienting, and I feel disoriented.

The fasting in Lent is meant to be sacrificial. You give something up of value to you, as an offering. I am also looking to let go of something that is contributing to my disorientation. I don't drink, or smoke, and giving up chocolate doesn't feel like a solution to what draws me to seek God. I've been praying and I am pretty certain what God has called me to let go of for the 40 days while I seek Him, and it's really hitting me where I live. It's Facebook. I kept trying to make a "better offer," and even had some valid excuses why it wouldn't work, like the 100 Verse Challenge, but the deeper I look, the more certain I am.

The good news is that Sundays are apparently "festival days" during Lent, and you get to eat your chocolate or red meat or whatever you are fasting from, which means I could still check in on Facebook and keep the Challenge going as well as connect with my son's fundraising activities for his missions trip. Those were my only really good arguments about why I should not take a break from Facebook, and with this new information, it was assuaged. I can do both.

I'm not sharing this to be like "oh look at me, I'm fasting," because the fact is, I'm not impressed with myself at all, I am choosing to be obedient to what I believe God is whispering to my heart out of a desperation. The last thing I was certain the Lord was speaking to me was a simple instruction, "Listen to hear, before listening to speak." I think Facebook hinders me in that. Unlike my blog where I typically have to set aside time and contemplate before I post, on Facebook there is little filter, I am extremely communicative, and sometimes I only think to speak, or worse, don't think and speak, and listening, especially listening to the Lord gets lost by the wayside. So I really do feel like the Lord is asking this of me, and I really need to make the effort to walk it out. Because if I am right, and it is of Him, then there is excellent purpose in it.

Things that won't change, is my blogs will post to my page because they do it automatically, as well as do things I highlight from my reading on my Kindle, and anyone who wants to can reach me via email or by text if they want to. I won't be inaccessible, but I will be less distracted. I'll have to take Facebook off my phone and sign out on all the computers that automatically sign in, but it will be for good purpose, and in the process, hopefully there is a surrender that if this in fact a stretching season, I will be more malleable to the work of the Holy Spirit, or if a season of sifting, I will be strong enough to withstand the testing. And if a desert, perhaps I will be quiet enough to hear more clearly the direction God is calling me to, and my own complaints will be silenced if no one but God is listening.

That's my hope. So why Lent? Because something's gotta give, and it has to start with me giving more of myself to God. It starts a week from tomorrow, and my prayer is that by then I will have laid down all my angst and will be looking forward to the season leading up to the most precious of days, Easter Sunday when Jesus after dying for me, rose again so I could have victory in my life, and so I could know Him.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

After yesterday's silliness while helping you decide what to give up for Lent, I feel a little bit of guilt, after reading your Blog. All kidding aside, when I saw your post yesterday about giving something up for Lent, I, selfishly, didn't think about how bad the crisis you're facing really is. I know you never do anything with whimsy when it comes to following God's path for you, but my long and drawn out opinion of what you should give up was a selfish one. Even though I may not always comment, I do read your Blog, I'm in 100 verses and I always look for your postings on Facebook-your extra Bible postings, your random thoughts about the day, etc., because you are a great inspiration to me. You walk the walk and you talk the talk. You gave your life to God at a time when most people are in their last year or two of college, partying, drinking, and the debauchery that is college life. I greatly admire you for that. When you started 100 Verses, I was immediately drawn to it. I knew I had to participate. There was never any doubt in my mind. I have no doubt, God used you as a messenger to start me on the road Him, and it all started with 100 Verses. So, when I saw that you were thinking of giving up Facebook for Lent, I, honestly, felt a bit of fear, like riding a two-wheeler for the first time. I have to let go of your hand, so to speak. So, by your praying and searching your heart on what to give up, again, you are God's messenger to me, telling me I have to "give you up", in a sense. I have to "stop holding your hand". Essentially, trying to find my own answers to questions I have. So, we will see what happens in those 40 days, but I want you to know, I have no doubt in my mind what so ever, you were His messenger on my behalf. For that, I will be forever grateful and humbled. <3