For the past decade or so, around this time every year, the question has begun buzzing around my community and circle of friends: “What are you giving up for Lent?”
The question has always been a hard one for me. Though I grew up in the church, the idea of fasting for the forty days prior to Easter was a relatively new one to me when I began walking – really walking – with Christ. All of a sudden, giving something up during Lent was something I was “supposed” to do to prepare myself for the celebration Christ’s death and resurrection. It was something I was supposed to do, apparently, but I never felt it deeply in my heart.
So while I would make commitments to give up television or caffeine or sugar, my heart wasn’t in it. The practice of fasting is a good one – a biblical one – if you are replacing what you’ve given up with a renewed focus on Jesus. For me, though, the period of fasting has always been one of halfhearted obedience – of sacrificing something for a time but desperately counting the days until I could indulge again.
And I think that part of my problem with Lenten fasting has always been that once Lent is over, I return to my old ways with the same intensity as before. The forty days of fasting look different, but beyond that, nothing changes.
Friends, I feel a pull – a relentless tug on my heart and the deepest places of my soul – to do something this year that will actually change something beyond Easter Sunday. Once the plastic eggs have been hunted and cracked open….once the chocolate bunnies have lost their ears and heads and feet….once the fake plastic grass is rounded back up and stuffed into the Easter baskets for another year….I want something in me to be different. I want Easter to be a celebration of life renewed this year. I want it to feel different, and for that to happen, I have to do Lent – this season of preparation – differently.
My friend Jennifer Lee is releasing her first book in a few weeks. This book is more than words on a page; it is a movement of women coming together to change their lives in the light of Christ. Jennifer is leading us on a journey during – but not limited to – the season of Lent, and I am eager to see where God takes us over the next few weeks. Ash Wednesday – the official start to the Lenten season – is next week, and until then I will be praying and earnestly, seeking God to see what He is leading me to do. Will you consider joining me? It’s an act of faith – believing that Christ’s death and life is relevant and can be life-changing in everyday, practical ways.
Friends, things can – and will – be different.