I've been thinking about Lent.
Several friends and I got into a discussion recently about what vice we would give up this year. One said all sugar, even juice. One said desserts. One said he gave up blogging once. I said, "I've never done Lent. I spend weeks trying to figure out what I'd like to give up and can't commit to any one thing, so I always end up just not doing it."
Coffee? Don't want the headache.
Dessert? But it's soooo good.
Facebook? That's how I stay connected.
How lame. There is an excuse for everything. Either that, or everything seems too small to claim as a sacrifice for the sake of knowing God in a richer way. Also, when it comes right down to it, I just don't get Lent. I didn't grow up Catholic or Lutheran, so the practice has always seemed...mysterious.
Yet, it draws me every year.
And so, I turn to someone much, much wiser than I for answers. Andrew Murray was a South African preacher, writer and man of prayer. I found his book, "With Christ in the School of Prayer," on my folks' book shelf. In the book, I think I've found a reason for Lent.
In a chapter about prayer and fasting, which is what I think Lent essentially is, Murray writes:
"It is in the dying to self which much prayer implies, in closer union to Jesus, that the spirit of faith will come in power. Faith needs prayer for its full growth. And prayer needs fasting for its full growth. ... Prayer is the one hand with which we grasp the invisible; fasting, the other, with which we let loose and cast away the visible. ... We are creatures of the senses: our mind is helped by what comes to us embodied in concrete form; fasting helps to express, to deepen, and to confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, to sacrifice ourselves, to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God."
I want that. If I look at Lent as a time to "cast away the visible" that I may "grasp the invisible," I think I can do it. I want to express and deepen my resolution to sacrifice anything -- even myself -- to seek God's glory.
Still the question remains: what do I give up in order to give God my all?
I'll have to get back to you on that.