Every year we get to this time and, for the past few years at least, Facebook gets flooded with all of the things that people are giving up for Lent. Everything from coffee to chocolate, and meat to favorite TV shows. We write blogs about it (like I’m doing now), and we give updates about how things are going. Once the time is over we go back to where we started. Maybe not at first, but slowly we pick up where we so abruptly stopped. I have been that person many, many times. So please believe that I’m not pointing fingers are throwing stones or whatever other figurative phrase you can put there. It’s just something that I’ve noticed about the season and my own personal success or failure with this whole process.
The biggest problem I have with the Lent diet, whatever I may be ‘dieting’ from generally becomes the thing I think about the most. So for 40 days I’m basically counting down until I can have the thing I’ve so dearly missed. Easter becomes as much about sugar or soda as it does about the resurrection of Christ Jesus. I’m pretty sure that’s not the desired effect.
So, starting with Lent, and hopefully continuing through whenever, I’m taking on James 4. I feel that for me personally I have to just do one thing. I don’t always multitask well. I’ve tried and it doesn’t always work. So I’m going to focus on drawing near to God and having Him draw near to me. If that means that I spend less time watching TV (which I don’t know if that’s possible lately), then so be it. If it changes what I listen to, then so be it. If drawing closer causes me to change my eating habits then praise God (seriously, that would be awesome). But I’m not going to start from the place of a new deficiency. I’m going to start from a new place of filling. Because if I start to fill myself with something new, something old has to move out of the way to make space. And for all of you my friends who are giving up things for Lent, go get ‘em! I will continue to pray for you as I always have. I honestly wrote this today because this is a common question around this week. Not as common as the ‘Where did you go to high school’ question for my STL friends, but common enough.
Be blessed, friends. I will leave you with the passage that sparked it all for me. James 4:2-10
2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.