Don’t Give Up Something for Lent
We’ve come to the season when we are reminded to ready our lives for Jesus. Resurrection is on its way,…
We’ve come to the season when we are reminded to ready our lives for Jesus. Resurrection is on its way, with the hope and joy it brings. But before Easter is the Passion of Jesus – that time when he suffered and let go of his will for the sake of the Father and the Mission. (To read my recent enote on Ash Wednesday and Lent, click here)
So this time of year is a great time to follow the same path of Jesus. If you are in a time of dryness or lacking hope, you can know hope is around the corner, waiting to burst out of the tomb by God’s power. We are also invited to walk with Jesus toward the cross – and instead of running from anything that might make us uncomfortable, embrace certain kinds of discipline and even suffering, knowing that in so doing we are being like Jesus. And taking up a cross is never easy. And every disciple is asked to take up a cross.
So if you feel led to “give something up” for the Lord these days, I want to affirm that instinct. For centuries Christ’s followers have found it spiritually enlivening to deny oneself as the scriptures say, during this time of year called Lent. A Christ follower named Meister Eckhardt from an earlier century reminds us that much of the real growth in our spiritual life comes from subtraction. It’s not always adding some new thing or learning something different that we are more like Jesus. It’s removing a distraction, a habit, a practice, an attitude that draws us away from Him.
So perhaps it’s time for you to let go of something? Drop a net in order to follow Jesus. Many of the classic spiritual disciplines are called disciplines of abstinence. In the discipline of Solitude we say NO to being around people for the sake of being more intent with Jesus. In the discipline of Silence we say no to the radio, TV, Youtube and jabbering we do in order to hear the still, small Voice more clearly. In the discipline of Fasting we say no to our belly which whines and cries and typically bosses us around until we put food into our mouths whenever it demands. These and other disciplines remind us of the strength and health and power and closeness to Jesus we can find through saying NO.
Don’t give up something for Lent. Give up something for Jesus.
Maybe, just maybe, there’s a NO you should be saying to something – so you can say a greater YES to Jesus. Is it time with him each day that is needed? Say no to something else. Is it prayer? Is it acts of kindness? Is it watching your tongue and saying no to your incessant desire to defend yourself, get the last word, or snap at others?
A step toward Jesus usually begins with a step away from something else.
If God’s nudging you to draw nearer to him, do it. But don’t try to just add him in. Subtract something else out.