Wednesday, February 22, 2012

lent: what i'm not giving up

i'm coming into a new season of my life.

i'm no longer going through the planning and getting married season. i'm almost done with the school season (thank you Jesus). so now on to the next season.

i haven't really figured out what this season is going to be, but i can tell you that it's going to include big things for the Lord from me.
it's going to include me taking a journey in discovering true surrender to God to fully be found in His salvation.

and so this morning when i started to read a couple blogs on lent (great blogs) i started to think about lent in general.

it should be pointed out that most importantly, lent isn't really in the bible. 
yes, there is the 40 days where Jesus is tempted by satan (matthew 4). but as far as an Ash Wednesday and not eating meat on certain days, and giving something's no where to be found.

as i searched my bible this morning and came up with nothing, that looming question popped up into my head. 
if it's not in the bible...than is it really biblical?

it's a really hard core thought. but really think about it.

if it's not in the bible than where did it come from?

the answer: man.

so again i ask, is lent really biblical?

if this whole 40 days was made up by some one, where is God in all of it?
if someone decided that 40 days of giving up coffee would bring you closer to God, what was his thought process?

i may have lost half my readers by now, but stay with me.

the idea of lent is based of Jesus fasting for 40 days in the wilderness.
for 40 days Jesus did nothing but spend time with His Father in heaven. praying for all the hours of a day, giving thanks, asking for strength...all the while being tempted by satan.

so how is lent today anything like that?

no, Jesus didn't have a job, or a family to come home and cook dinner for, or classes to attend. but even if we did those things in our life that we can't just give up for 40 days, we could still give up everything else.

He didn't get up on that mountain top and keep all his fruits and veggies. He didn't keep His iphone because He gave up His computer. He didn't keep a pop because He gave up coffee. He didn't just go up there once a week to find some quite...He fasted, everything in His life, for 40 days.

and people brag about giving up sweets.

i should inject here, that last year i gave up facebook and touted about it. and pop the year before.

when you practice some appetite-denying discipline to better concentrate on God, don't make a production out of it. it might turn you into a small time celebrity but it won't make you a saint. if you 'go into trining' inwardly, act normal outwardly. God doesn't require attention getting devices. He won't overlook what you are doing; He'll reward you well. 
matthew 6:16-18 MSG

so when we fast from's between us and God. not for the world to know.

which, last time i checked, blogging and tweeting about what we give up is making us look like small time celebrities.

my point is that what we're giving up, facebook/coffee/sweets/meat doesn't mean anything to God. because whether we like to be honest or not...we're just going to fill it with something else. 
more tv or more pop. more gossiping friends. more complaining because you're hungry.

i worry because what lent might have meant at the beginning has been twisted into a 40 days to see who can go with out the biggest thing. like it's a competition.

just because we've given something up, doesn't mean it's glorifying God.

the point to fasting is surrendering the big things so you can depend on God.
it's fasting like Jesus did. 

i understand that the idea behind lent is to give up things you have daily, and so when you want those things you go to God...but do you? in the middle of the day, when you really need that cup of coffee are you going to God in prayer no matter where you are, or are you just going to be grumpy?

i'm skeptical of lent because it's man made. 

fasting on the other hand, so biblical and so powerful when you put your heart into it.

so what's my point with all of this? certainly not to bash anyone participating in lent, but just to raise some questions.
to point out that yes, it's not in the bible and was man made.
and to ask if you're giving something up, is it really something that will draw you closer to God?

Jesus fasted by giving up everything.
that should be our starting point.

i'm not giving anything up for lent, because i'm entering into this new season of my life 
gaining more of Jesus. 

john 3:30 He must become greater; I must become less. 


Cara said...

So, looks like both of us are GAINING something and GETTING something rather than giving something up for this lentil season. (I just turned 'lent' into a legume: lentil. Full of fiber.) ANYWAY, we are both pursuing Him more. We are letting HIM fill the empty parts, the parts that WE have filled with things other than Him.

I know we haven't been close that long, Meg but I know you know this too. God brought us together for such a time as this. I don't doubt that at all. This was not by chance.

Love you Meg.

annie said...

hey megan! since i blogged a little about my own lenten journey this morning, i thought i'd pop in here and offer my own two cents.

you're right: lent, as a practice, can't be found in scripture. but, as you pointed out, the practices of fasting and prayer and commmunity with christ's body the church are found in scripture, and to me, that's what lent is. it's a practice and a church tradition established not just to represent christ's 40 days in the desert, but also to commemorate his death, burial, and resurrection. lent is meant to be a time of mourning, a time of taking a step back and delving into the reality of christ's sacrifice. for many people, this means sacrificing something of themselves, no matter how small. for others, it means putting on a new habit or spiritual ritual to aid in their walk with christ.

i don't think there's anything wrong with choosing not to participate in lent. i come from a church background that didn't practice the church calendar or the lenten season at all, so many of my friends don't follow the lenten practice, and i don't intend to bind my own goals or intentions on them this season. indeed, that would be such a distortion of what i believe lent truly is.

that being said, i also don't think there's anything wrong with, as i described on my blog today, taking baby steps toward becoming more like christ, and choosing lent as the time to do so. i agree with you: so often lent (or fasting, or even prayer) can become a pride thing, and i certainly want to watch myself to make sure that this season isn't about ME and MY goals and what I'M doing. perhaps i shouldn't have blogged publicly about my journey; i am just -- at this point -- so accustomed to blogging about my spiritual walk, and lent is a big part of that for me. it didn't occur to me not to share with some of friends and brothers and sisters what i plan to embark on for the next 40 days.

whatever the case, this season is meant to be about the son and what he did for us all that dark day at calvary.

i hope that in these next few weeks leading up to easter, we all can become more and more like jesus -- regardless of whether or not we choose to practice the tradition of lent.

Diana Amy said...

Hey girl - I really enjoyed this post! I always give up something for Lent, but it's based far more on my cultural Christianity than my actual faith. I feel like I give something up more to escape my grandmother's judgement than to become closer to God. This Lent, while I will, as always, give up a small vice, I need to remember to actually devote more time to surrendering myself to Him.

a girl with a smile said...

I agree with everything you said! Lent is NOT in the Bible & when we do fast it SHOULD be between God and us. However, Lent is a good reminder and initiative to fast.

I'm not really giving up anything for Lent, but I am certainly making an effort to encourage those that are (who probably wouldn't fast otherwise). Fasting is rarely preached from the pulpit, so I take this opportunity to talk to others and open the window of conversation to speak these truths you wrote here :)

As always, very grateful for you!

Sydney said...

love this so much, meg.

you know that i'm doing lent this year (i gave up twitter). this is actually only the 2nd year i've ever done it though. even though i was kinda-sorta but not really (looong story!) raised catholic, i never participated in it before last year.

i was writing about this in my lent post (which isn't finished yet): people basically just give things up so they can say they did. they don't put any real thought into it, most times. everyone has given up chocolate for lent some year in their life if they participate in it...and i doubt people really have that much of a chocolate addiction. but if they give up something, then they can brag about it, etc. and it just really has nothing to do with jesus. a girl with a peanut allergy might as well give up peanut butter. :) if you want to give up soda, that's great for your health and all, but that's really not what lent is for.

i gave up twitter because i spend A LOT of time on there, and yes, not being on it really will free up a lot of my time...but i still have to make the choice to use that time to spend time with god instead of just spending more time on facebook (which is kind of what i figured i'd do). today is only the first day of lent though, and i can actually become more like jesus and just have a really meaningful lent season if i try. i think lent can be a good thing if you have the really, really have the right motivation & goals going into it. thanks girl.

p.s: i love that you say pop!

Rachel Larson said...

I've heard so much about "fat tuesday" and lent that I actually appreciated your post. I really enjoy the idea of GAINING GOD. Why give up something, if it's not going to bring you spiritually closer to your Lord. I think a much better idea is to focus on surrounding yourself with more of him. Reading more of your Bible, and improving your prayer and devotional life! I love the Lenten season! We are reminded of Christ's journey to the cross to be our substitute, wash away our sins, and give us eternal life. But I think Lent these days is almost along the lines of a New Years resolution to stop eating bad foods or stop saying bad words. It should be about God and growing in our relationship with him!

Valerie Griffin said...

i agree with you 100 percent!

Justina F. Lee said...

It's the intention isn't it? Great post and great reminder Megan. :-)

Ashley Shelley - The Christian Wife Life said...

I so love your honesty and your heart.

And that's what it's all about, right? The heart.

This really has nothing to do with the subject matter but this post was a wake up call for me - in that recently I would not have written something like it for fear of negative feedback. I've been WAY too careful with my writing these a selfish way. God has used you today to point this out to me! So THANK YOU! :)

Erin said...

AGREED! :) you are wise.

Annie said...

i agree!

i always try to remind myself of the verse that says the left hand is not to know what the right is doing. we're to be that silent on the good things we're doing. it's not about us. it's all about Him.

that said, i think, while there's nothing strictly biblical about practicing lent in the ritual fashion that's ordained, it can be beneficial. and rather than expound at length, i'm just going to say i agree with what annie said in her comment. {and speaking of other comments, cara's made me LAUGH. OUT. LOUD. lentils?! baha.}

last year i gave up blogging. and i wrote up a short post about how i was going to give it up. it corresponded well anyway with my realization that i was getting too emotionally and personally invested in blogging, by which i mean every drop and high affected my self-esteem. so i took a step back, to figure out what i was supposed to do with it.

i saw more followers join my blog in those six weeks of lent than i had in the six weeks before that, and all i was posting was pictures for project 52. and i felt like God was saying it was right for me to step back, to wait for Him to guide my steps with my blog. and I also felt like He was confirming my conviction that i'm to use my blog for His glory.

so, no, lent isn't strictly biblical; God doesn't break it down for us like He breaks down how we ought to pray. but I think it's a season, like advent in december, for us to step back, reflect, and grow. this lent i haven't given anything up, but i'm praying to remember, praying to seek, praying to grow.

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