Thursday, April 21, 2011

Dear Lent...I'm Going to Miss You!

Have you ever noticed how the words fast and feast are very closely related? Just add or subtract one simple letter and you get two words that are polar opposites. When I think about fasting, I think about limiting myself from something, taking away or depriving myself. Feasting, on the other hand, brings up thoughts of enjoying myself, filling up on things that bring me pleasure, or having as much of something as I can possibly imagine. My mind has been on these two words this week as Easter approaches this Sunday. As I have said before, I gave up all soft drinks for Lent, including my beloved Coke. Lent will officially come to a close on Sunday and a time of feasting will begin as Christians celebrate the risen King. I can't believe I am about to say this...but I think I'm going to miss Lent.
I did not grow up observing Lent. I grew up in the Primitive Baptist faith, and like most Baptists, never really heard about or paid much attention to the Lenten season. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying you are better or more holy as a Christian if you DO observe Lent, I'm just explaining why I didn't know about it and why I really like it now. I learned about Lent when I started attending my present church, which is Methodist. For the last few years, I toyed around with the idea of fasting and basically gave up something that wasn't hard to give up or either cheated and didn't make it past the first week. Then I really started digging deeper into what fasting is all about and this is what I have discovered. It is a way to truly humble ourselves before Him and confess our total inadequacy. It helps us strip off all of our pretenses and empty ourselves of pride. It has caused me to take a personal spiritual inventory and to start cleaning out things which hinder my relationship with God. This is where some people will think, "You want me to believe that you gave up Coke and learned all of this??" I'm saying that for me, giving up Coke was hard enough that I had to stop and pray...a lot. Instead of turning to that cold, sweet, syrupy goodness and instant gratification, I turned to Him and a lasting feeling of love, peace and contentment. It wasn't easy. There were times I wanted to cry because I wanted a Coke so badly. (Don't judge!) I began to notice that I had to rely more on Him to get me through the hard days and feelings and in doing so started to feel closer to Him. Who doesn't like feeling close to the One who loves you unconditionally and will never forsake you?
Basically, through small (or not so small) sacrifices and giving up of self we open up ourselves before God and allow ourselves to respond anew to His presence in our daily lives. So, what about the feasting and celebrating we do as Christians? I think that feasting and fasting are not mutually exclusive ideas. Stay with me. Feasting can come in many different forms, just like fasting. When I wake up every morning, I feast upon all of the blessings He has given me and the gift of a new day! I feast by walking outside, going to the beach, riding in my car with the windows down, hugging my kids, going to a movie or a concert or reading a favorite book. Fasting to grow closer to Him can be through giving up a favorite food or drink like I did or by giving up tv, the computer, facebook or anything or anyone else that puts a drain on your time or energy and takes your focus off of what is truly important in this life.
I think I'm going to keep going. I'm not saying I'm never going to drink a Coke again, but it has felt really refreshing to my soul to have a more prayerful attitude these past 40 days. I don't want this feeling to end. What I thought was going to be a period of deprivation and negativity turned into a feast on God's word and His promises to me. I know I usually sum up with a Bible verse that ties into what I have been blogging about, but I want to end with this scripture from Isaiah 53:5-6 "But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our sins; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all." He is risen in me. Amen.

1 comment:

  1. Another great post! Thanks for sharing. Happy to hear you enjoyed your feast during Lent. I too was raised Baptist & wasn't familiar with Lent until I was an adult.