I love making commitments. It really excites me to set new goals and challenges for myself. So the challenge of giving up something for the 40 days of Lent is perfect for me! However, following up on those commitments is another story.
Just last week a tub of cookie dough stared me in the face for 10 minutes without blinking. I struggle to not eat sweets every day. Often times when we are struggling with our suffering, we can look to the cross and see what Christ has done for us. It helps encourage us to stay faithful to our Lenten promises.
I’ve Heard that Before
Every once in a while a new “catch phrase” comes up that everyone likes to say. You know, words like “legit” or “epic.” We have these in the Christian realm as well. Take “offer it up” for example. I could complain about wanting sweets but I’m sure someone would tell me to just “offer it up.” Some of these commonly known phrases used to bug me because I thought they were over used.
The phrase that bugged me the most was “God is faithful.”
I couldn’t really say it. It’s not that I didn’t believe it, I just didn’t see it. When people talked about God being faithful, I got uncomfortable because I struggled to see God’s faithfulness in my life.
I didn’t see God’s faithfulness because I wasn’t giving Him anything to be faithful in. I believed in the power of prayer but didn’t use it very much. I believed in miracles but never prayed for them. I believed in God but relied on myself. God is faithful. At any moment when we feel fear, anxiety, sadness, or anything else, God waits there to show us His faithfulness. He is good and faithful to all who call on His name. (Ps 100:5) Love demands a response.
This is far too great a love to leave us still and complacent.
Why Do We Do It?
When this truth hit me, I began to slowly let go of things I was clutching on to. I decided it was the only proper response to such a great God. I wanted to respond to His great faithful promises with a gift of my own: my trust and every inch of my heart.
Being faithful to our Lenten promises is important because it’s an opportunity to say, “Jesus, I love you more than this ice cream I’m giving up.”
But mostly, it’s an opportunity for prayer, fasting, and alms-giving. We learn discipline and realize that there are hungers inside of us that earthly things cannot satisfy. We were made for Heaven and we will always feel slightly “incomplete” until we get there.
C.S. Lewis said, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”
Called to Action
Lent is not a season for comfort. It’s a season for sacrifice and growth. It calls us to move. And this is the great question I’ve been asking myself: What makes me move? Yes, techno music makes me move. But this is different. What makes me move, what drives me?
It’s been said that the two greatest motivators in life are fear and love. A good way to tell what moves you is to figure out if you are running away from something or running towards something. As Jesus said over and over in the Gospels, “Be not afraid.” Fear is not for us.
As Christians, we live in freedom, not fear. If I’m making a decision or change, I try to make sure I’m doing it because I’m running towards Jesus, not running away from something else.
I have refused sweets many times already this Lent. I don’t refuse them because I’m scared of breaking a promise or afraid God will triple the calories for disobeying my Lenten commitment. I refuse the sweets because it’s one of the things I decided to do for Lent. I’d rather take the seemingly sad situation as a chance to run to Jesus and unite my (puny) sufferings with His. I prefer to be moved and driven by love, not fear. Remember that we are the beloved. Notice that we word beloved breaks up into be-loved.
So as we move forward this Lent, we will be challenged to keep our ‘promises to God’. But this is our opportunity to respond to God’s great love and sacrifice with some love and sacrifice of our own. We unite our sufferings to His, we offer them up, and we let who we love decide what we do. We recognize what draws us closer to God and we choose to pursue those things. We choose to be faithful to Love.
My prayer for each of you is that Love moves you and drives you in all that you do.