I’ve never been one for giving up things for Lent, because I didn’t understand the point. Someone once told me it was to emulate Jesus’ 40 days of preparation. Really? We emulate Jesus’ preparation for the cross by giving up coffee or chocolate? Really?
For a long time, I’ve seen giving things up for Lent as a half-task way of sorta kinda fasting but not really because real fasting would be too hard.
In our Ash Wednesday worship, the pastor challenged us to observe these days “with prayer and fasting,” and that is a huge deal to me. His sermon was on the seven deadly sins, and he urged us to give up one of them for Lent.
Not all. He warned. You can’t give them all up at once. It’s too hard. Just one.
Here they are:
So I prayed over this list during the sermon, as if I needed to. I knew before I walked in the building which one I most need to work on.
Pride? Yeah, I’ve wrestled with that one. It snuck up on me because I thought I was pretty honest about my limitations, but the writing of Alara’s Call revealed a Pride problem in my character that I could trace right back to the author.
Anger I spend many years working through, by diligent application of Scripture and the work of the Holy Spirit. When I look back on how poorly I used to manage my anger, it’s embarrassing. It’s mostly under control, now, but I’m—dare I say it—humble enough to know I’m only one more dropped Internet connection away from totally losing it. I mean, how many times can a router drop a signal in one day? You’d think—
Ahem. Where was I?
Lust, Greed, Sloth, Envy—I struggle with them as much as anyone does. They are definitely on my list of things to be addressed. But before I go there, there’s another bad boy I have to deal with.
Have I not confessed it a hundred times? Maybe a thousand. At least once, right here. In my Bible study class. Among my Health and Wellness accountability group. I reached Step One: I am willing to admit I have a problem.
But what am I doing about it? Apart from beating myself up, not a whole lot.
Until now. I am giving up Gluttony. Not just for Lent, although this is the start of it. I know from my battle with Anger that this will take a while. Probably a long while, because I love food. And unlike other addictive substances, food isn’t a thing you can give up cold turkey. That would not produce the desired result.
While I’m not literally fasting—I know myself well enough to know that if I go without, even for half a day, I’ll binge when I do eat—I’m going to be mindful about whether I’m eating because I’m hungry or whether I’m just eating because I enjoy it.
This will be a long road. It will take more than 40 days. It will likely take several years. But I know I don’t have to do it—in fact, I can’t do it—under my own power. This is going to take the power of the Holy Spirit in me.
For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.— Romans 14:17