It is that time of year again folks. Fat Tuesday followed immediately by the sobering and hungover Ash Wednesday. In many religions across the globe most Christian beings will observe a time of Lent. The meaning of Lent is quite simple, you give up something that you really like or enjoy for forty days and nights. The cheaters quit something that they seldom do, because our Lord loves it when we take the easy road. But the true meaning of this time is to reflect on what Jesus did in the desert. Before He went forth with the Gospel Jesus spent forty day and nights in the desert to be tempted by the devil. I cannot imagine all that the devil did during that time, but I am sure it was quite vivid and would take a Saviour to not eat or drink and resist the enemy for that long of a time. We as simple humans find it difficult to give up coffee for that amount of time. The beauty of Lent is that at the end of it most, I said most, people go back to the habit they gave up. They have grown accustomed to not having it in their lives and realize they don't need it anymore. The harsh reality is that it only takes half of the time of Lent to completely break a habit.
Then there are the two schools of thought on sharing about Lent. I am not one to say which is right or wrong, but from the way I explain it you will surmise my point of view. There are those who enter the time of Lent in secret, not letting anyone know what it is they are giving up. The theory is, Jesus was alone, and so must we suffer alone. They follow the scripture of Matthew 6 very closely, But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Then there are the others, the ones who tell you what they are giving up. These are the ones who need you to know they are suffering for Christ, and just how much they are suffering, as if a public flogging will earn them a better place. I for one am one of those people who choose to suffer alone as Jesus did, it should be apparent that it is the season of Lent, and it should also be apparent that if you are a Christian then you are observing the season and have therefore given something up. As Christians, we must pray for the ones who give up big for God, and even pray for the ones who publicly give up for God.
So here is the big question, will I tell you what I am giving up for Lent? Of course I will. Without being a hypocrite as well. You see, I have already practiced my season, it is over for me. Me, I gave up church, for forty days, and forty nights. But for me the result is different, I have found that I still need church, I still need that sense of community and companionship. I broke the habit of being involved in my church community. But unlike smoking or drinking coffee, I have actually found that it is the only habit you can have, that is more addictive than drugs, and no one considers me a failure because I could not break that habit. In fact, upon my return, it was quite a homecoming. Like our Saviour, during your time of reflection and loss, pray earnestly to the Father to protect you from the enemy, he will be there, and he hates you, because nothing angers the enemy quite like the strength you achieve from fasting. Jesus did it, and so shall we, what will you give up for the Father?
p.s.- if you don't make it, or if you feel a moment of weakness, ask yourself this, whom do you serve? Have faith, a coke zero is nothing but pure poison anyway.