Something Better Than “Giving Something Up” For Lent?

Ash Wednesday kicks off Lent — the 40-day period leading up to Easter (excluding Sundays).

During that time, a lot of people “give something up.” Originally this had more to do with fasting, but now many take a broader approach.

Here are some of the most popular casualties:

  • Chocolate
  • Alcohol
  • Certain foods (especially junk food or fast food, and sometimes meat)
  • Facebook
  • Spending money on non-necessities
  • Smart phone use outside of business hours
  • Coffee (ouch!)

There are some others but this post is G-Rated.

But why do people “give something up” in the first place?

Something better thanLent is training for Easter. Just how you would get yourself in tip-top shape for a big playoff game, you get yourself in tip-top spiritual shape for Easter, which is the ground-zero of the Christian faith because it is about the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.

And when you train for something you purge the bad and pump up the good.

Simone Weil wrote that “All sins are attempts to fill voids.”

Reflecting on that statement, Barbara Brown Taylor said that “Because we cannot stand the God-shaped hole inside of us, we try stuffing it full of all sorts of things, but only God may fill [it].”

Therefore, Lent is also a time of prayer and self-reflection as you do a U-Turn from the thoughts and habits you know dishonor God–and which, deep down, try to replace him.

It’s a time to say ‘Yup, I’ve been slack and something ain’t right; time to turn it around.’

But this Lent, I’d like to suggest a different approach as you train for Easter:

Do one thing you’re already doing… better.

I’m guessing that you’re already doing something to honor God and better yourself. But you’re so busy that it’s become another check on a to-do list instead of the soul fertilizer it was originally intended to be.

…If your prayer life has become a pillow-time snooze fest, maybe you need to do it first thing in the morning.

…If your Sunday morning worship life has become stale, maybe you need to start paying attention to how God may be talking to you.

…If your exercise regime is choking, maybe you need to get a new routine, route or some music for your iPod.

…If your family-time has started to seem like a chore, maybe you need to turn off your phone and engage at the next level.

You get the idea. And you probably already know what you need to do.

Sometimes the thing you need to “give up” is mediocrity.

Do one thing you’re already doing… better.

And when Easter comes, maybe you’ll find that Jesus isn’t the only one who’s been resurrected.


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