Lenten Season

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.
Matthew 4:1-2
Often times, Lent becomes a shortened, more attainable version of New Year’s Resolution Round 2. I am certainly guilty of this. Even if my small sacrifice is a genuine offering to God, it israther convenient to be “giving up sweets” just before the weather warms up and the bathing suits come out.
For forty days, we deny ourselves just as Christ did. We are tempted, just as He was, and in our fasting, we call upon Him for strength and sustenance. We prepare our hearts for the greatest miracle of all time – the God of the universe rising from the dead. The point is not to have an excuse to shed three pounds. We give something up that we are attached to, that we value. In its absence our focus not only turns back to the Lord, but is also sharpened and clarified.
Living in a state in which my community has been shifting just about every three months, I have become far too connected to social media. Facebook and Instagram allow me to stay in touch with people I can’t see in person – kind of (Phone calls are much more authentic and effective). They’re also my go-to distractions when I’m bored or procrastinating. I’ve even resorted to watching TV, something I’ve rarely done in the past. These are not bad things, but, minor as they may seem, they have become idols in my life. Most of the time I don’t even realize it, but I use them to fill a piece inside of me that I should be allowing God to fill.

Tonight I spontaneously joined some interns for an incredible few hours of worship at National Community Church. I’ve been planning on giving up Facebook for Lent, but this time of prayer allowed me to really consider the value and meaning of Lent. “You deserve all my worship. You deserve all my praise,” one song went, and I really sensed a call to deeper sacrifice and discipline. Along with Facebook, I will be fasting from all forms of media entertainment this year. I’m also going to be spending an hour in scripture every day – 30 minutes when I first wake up using the 40 Days of Lent study, and another half hour during stillness at work meditating and memorizing the Sermon on the Mount. We’re still talking first-world sacrifices here, but I will certainly need the Lord to help me through this Lenten season. Jesus was hungry in the wilderness, and then He was tempted. I will have urges both to log on to Facebook and to skip out on a devotional. I hope these days leading to Easter will be ones of deep spiritual growth, and for that to happen, the idols still standing between my Redeemer and me must be cleared away.

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