Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Lent- What Are You Giving Up?

Happy Lent, Christian readers.
Is that such a thing? 
Is Lent something to be happy about except that it heralds the coming of spring and Easter?

Bill and I have spent the last 30 years in a non-denominational church so Lent really isn't part of our church culture.
A few years ago, I started hearing again about what everyone was giving up for Lent. 
It got me thinking and questioning. I grew up in the Lutheran church so the Lenten season was not unfamiliar to me but it had been years since we acknowledged it or given up anything. 

I would hear that people were giving up chocolate, dessert, cokes, wine or Starbucks.
I wondered about the purpose of Lent.  
 How exactly was giving up Starbucks entering into the sufferings of Christ?

I'm not smacking on anybody here but I pondered the question and wondered what I would give up.

Here are some verses about the suffering of Jesus that came to mind.

"I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me." Matt. 26:21
 "Take and eat; this is my body." Matt 26:26 & 29 "This is my blood."

This was foretold;
"I will strike the shepherd and the sheep of the flock will be scattered."  Matt. 26:31

In the garden of Gethsemane He said,
 "My soul is overwhelmed with suffering to the point of death." Matt. 26:38

Matt. 27: 28 - They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. 

They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. "Hail, king of the Jews!" they said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. 
Then they led him away to crucify him.

Was Jesus afraid to suffer these horrendous things and die?

Sure, but I don't think His extreme fear in the garden was because they were going to whip or mock Him.  
I think He was afraid of the weight of the sin being put on Him and the separation from God that He would experience as a result.

This is humbling.
There was no way that my giving up chocolate or coffee or sweets could help me identify with His suffering or to experience what He did during his 40 days in the dessert while He was fasting and being tempted. (Matthew 4: 1-11)
I clearly didn't recall the church tradition behind Lent. It had been a long time since I'd been in the Lutheran church. 
It is about preparing for the Easter season or His 40 days in the dessert?
Either way, 
I started to think about what sinful pattern I could give up that would cause me to remember the sacrifice that He made in going to the cross.
  A few years ago it was bitterness. 
I chose to turn from bitter thoughts and focus on forgiveness. He moved mountains about a situation that had caused bitterness.

 Last year I gave up complaining and you have to know what happened. 
Suddenly, there were a ton of things to complain about. 
It caused me to concentrate on how much I complained.
 He was at work behind the scenes and a very annoying situation was over! 

This morning the sinful pattern that came to mind was criticism.
When critical thoughts come to mind, I'll choose to think about something else. 
Of course all of these things should be a focus for me all during the year and not just during Lent. 
It's not the moderation type of things that I necessarily struggle with although I love sweets and coffee. Maybe another year it will be that type of thing. 

My stuff is heart stuff - the stuff that pops into my head that I don't necessarily verbally express except to those that are closest to me.
I still don't think that there is anyway to completely enter into His suffering and know what He experienced in the dessert for 40 days. Hopefully during this season, I will be mindful of how often I fall short and how often I am tempted. 
Who knows?
I may be doing fewer blog projects and maybe contentment will be more of a companion. 
Happy Ash Wednesday!


  1. Katie- What a wonderful post! I know- my hubby was raised Catholic and I was part of the church at one time. Like you, we have been part of a non-denominational church for almost 30 years. And, while we celebrate Easter we don't follow the practices of Lent. You are so right- sometimes it is what we need to give up THINKING as much as what we need to give up physically. I like that. Smart girl!!!! A way to honor Him in your own way. xo Diana

  2. In the Jewish religion, there are also symbolic sacrifices we are supposed to you, I've never quite gotten that. I think that you are right, though, that the "heart" stuff is more meaningful than the physical stuff.

  3. I too am Lutheran. I need to figure out what to give up for lent. Your idea of giving up complaining is excellent.
    Cottage Making Mommy