Friday, February 24, 2012

A Lenten Thought

Two nights ago, I attended an Ash Wednesday service at my church here in New York City.  Ash Wednesday is when the church enters the 40-day Season of Lent, when Christ followers are called to self-examination and prayer.  It comes from the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert.


I wanted to share a very thought-provoking statement, shared at the Lenten service by one of our pastors.  It went something like this:


"Lord, during these next forty days...may we abstain from all we do not need."


Whoa.  My jaw dropped at the thought of it.  What if, for the next 40 days, I laid aside those things that were unneeded and unnecessary?  What is unnecessary in the eyes of our Lord?  What is extraneous to His plan and purpose?  What distracts us from Him?


If you are celebrating the Lenten season, what are you focusing on?  What are you giving up?  How are you directing your attention to our God?

5 comments:

  1. Very awesome. Yes, Lent is certainly a solemn time is the church when we experience a certain "darkenss" before the joy of the Resurrection on Easter morning! However, I find that if I give something up JUST to be giving something up, I am distracted from the true meaning of why I am making that small sacrifice. Say I give up soda and then slip up a few times and don't make my soda-free time a priority. Whatever we choose to give up should serve as just one TINY, MINISCULE reminder of the HUMONGOUS sacrifice God made in giving up his only SON on the cross, JUST to save us - poor, undeserving people - and give us everlasting life. WHEW! AMEN! Every time we say no to our "soda", let us say a prayer of thanksgiving!

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  2. Indeed! I've often thought what our lives would be like without all the distractions. If we could totally focus just on God. I often think about David, and how he was a shepherd before he became king, and how he must have spent time in the fields with nothing but the sheep and the Lord. And as silly of a picture as that paints, think of all the time that gave him to write the psalms of praise and psalms of personal development that we know and love today! And then God, because of that intimacy and personal development, used him to achieve GREAT and wonderful things. It was only until he became king and he became busy and "distracted" did he fall away from God. Absolutely, we should always be mindful of what's important in our lives and whats not. What can we do without, but more importantly, what are we putting before God??

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  3. Years ago, Chris and I used Lent as a time to "put on" the discipline of always praying together out loud right before we went to bed. We focused on pouring out everything to our Father. It was an amazing time of growth or us...in our marriage, and in our faith walks. Putting the Lord at the center, with our eyes focused on Him. God is good!

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  4. I read "A Lenten Thought" yesterday morning, and I must say, I have been thinking about it ever since. "...may we abstain from all we don't need" has kept my mind busy. I'm not even exactly sure what that statement means for me ("all we don't need"). Honestly, I'm a little scared to find out. I have been challenged, as I walked into starbucks my mind was thinking "Is this one of those things that I don't need?" As I went grocery shopping my mind was thinking "what is it that I truly need?" When I turn on the TV, "do I need this"? So this blog has been a catalyst of change in my mind. I'm praying that God will reveal what exactly is in my life that I don't need, since those things are in the way of Him using me to further His Kingdom here on earth!

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  5. For the past many years, I have tried giving up sweets, chocolate, diet coke, all things that tend to be things that I turn to in a moment of stress or anxiety, just a quick lightening of my spirit. Even if not stressed, just something to bring a smile to my face or good feeling in my bones (you all know what I'm talking about).

    This year, I began to think about those past things, and they never really worked. Somehow it just felt like abstaining from something, which is what I've tried to do with many things all throughout life, even unrelated to my walk with Jesus. So this time, I knew something needed to change in my character.

    I decided to try to give up complaining and negativity. These are things that have crept into my world more than I ever saw coming in the last year of my life with a lot of transitions and changes happening. Sometimes it's so much easier to vent than to actually just allow God's peace in your heart when you are being tested.

    Have I been as committed to this as I hoped? I guess no. All this has done is heightened my awareness for all of the times that I DO complain, "vent" and decide not to hold my tongue. I let frustrations and silly things get the best of me.

    This has been good to let God into a difficult area, yet another area that I have wanted to have control over. It is tough to let go of something that makes me feel good or feel justified.

    And so we continue in being humbled that we are not God, that we need Jesus, and thankful that He loves me and is changing my heart.

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