First of all, welcome to our Lenten blog! Since the fall when were blessed with this new amazing website, we have talked about blogging together as a staff. I’ll admit that as the millennial of the group, I’m the most excited. We will be sharing a variety of thoughts throughout lent and we encourage you to share them on social media and join the conversation in the comment section below.
I can hardly believe that Ash Wednesday is already upon us… leading up to this day I have been overwhelmed by the incredible amount of opportunities online for us to grow in our spiritual life over the course of this season (check out The Best Lent Ever and #ShareJesus.) While it has become a common trend to ‘take on’ something during lent — and I suggest that you do– I feel we have really lost something if we give up the ‘giving up’ part of lent. While many people still observe the regular fasting and abstinence on Ash Wednesday and Friday’s throughout lent I think it’s an important practice to choose something to fast from throughout lent on our own. P.S. if you are still confused about the whole fasting and abstinence thing in lent here is an awesome illustration to get you on track…
Here are five reasons we should fast from things during lent…and even at other times in the year…
1. When we give something up, we make room for God
One year I gave up watching television for lent. WHOAH! I know… It was tough but it freed up so much of my time. That time could be spent praying, reading a spiritual book or even something not spiritual that reminded me of the awesome world that God created. I could spend that time connecting with my roommates and seeing God in them. I also have given up listening to music in the car — fasting from this regular pleasure gave me lots of time to think and pray … it also prepared me for the time when I drove a REALLY junky car and the radio didn’t work!
2. When we deny ourselves something that we want, we are training our bodies and minds for a bigger sacrifice.
The world has been shocked by the recent murders of Christians by ISIS. It may bring us to reflect ourselves… put in that situation would I be willing to do the same thing? Would we be willing to say “Jesus, help me” as we faced our certain death?
It seems a little insensitive to compare martyrdom to giving up chocolate, I know. But if we are not able to suffer a small sacrifice (think…passing by that Tim Hortons while it’s Rrrrrroll up the rim…) then how can we think that we will be prepared and willing to make bigger sacrifices — even the biggest one. Treat lent like a training mission for saints.
3. We can unite even small sacrifices with Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice.
I think the main reason why people have started to steer towards ‘taking on’ instead of ‘giving up’ is because we haven’t had the right mindset when we are ‘giving up.’ One year I gave up sweets — while I was working at Starbucks!!! Biggest sacrifice yet, but also my best lent. The lent that brought me closest to Jesus. Because every time I was rearranging our display case and putting our those fresh ginger molasses cookies, I always thought “Jesus, you made such a huge sacrifice for me. I can make this small sacrifice for you and offer it together with your sacrifice for all those souls who are in need.”
Did you know you can offer these sacrifices for other souls!?! Perhaps each day you could offer your sacrifice for a different person or a different group of people.
4. We realize what we need versus what we want.
I don’t think I need to belabour this point. We live in a world of abundance. Sometimes I feel like I could never do without my phone. But of course, while I was at our family cottage this weekend with no cell service, I did indeed survive.
I once worked in an office with a large group of young adults. One of my male coworkers kept a secret stash of chocolate in his desk. When one of us ladies were having a rough day we would find a little treat waiting on our desk — he was a smart man. Although I may often say that I need chocolate and sometime very much feel like I do, I know deep down that I don’t. If I fast from chocolate I will be reminded of my basic needs. Gratitude often flows naturally from fasting.
5. It is still one of the three traditional practices during lent (prayer, fasting, and almsgiving)
Although taking something on has become pretty trendy over the last few years, we still have a beautiful tradition of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving (obviously prayer and almsgiving fit into the ‘taking on’ category.) The church gives us this beautiful season as a reset button. As a focused time in the desert.
Lent was actually trending yesterday on twitter. I’m super happy that it is being talked about on social media but lent is more then just giving up some sweets to help you loose a couple extra pounds. It isn’t about giving up coffee to test your mental endurance (or your families tolerance of the non-caffineited version of yourself.) This is about refocusing ourselves on Christ — preparing to celebrate the most important moment in history.
Also, don’t forget what Jesus said about fasting
What is something difficult for you to fast from? What are you fasting from this lent?