Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Fat Tuesday, Fasting, and Lent

Lost Palms Oasis, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.

Well, it's that time of year again. Lent. But what's the time all about. Some would say, Fat Tuesday is your last chance to really party until Easter. Some would say that lent is the time of year that some Christians get ashes on their foreheads.

What's really going on over these days. What's Lent all about anyway? Lent comes from the latin word to lengthen and it is used in reference to the lengthening of daylight that happens as Spring approaches.

While I was in the desert, among other things that I did, I fasted for three days. During this time I only drank water. "Why would I do that to myself?" you might ask. The idea of fasting is to let go of good things that God gives you every day for the sake of growing more dependent on Him, and not getting so caught up in the abundance of gifts that we forget about the Giver. When we give up food, or TV, or music, or whatever non-sinful thing we enjoy for the sake of growing more connected with God, it allows a different kind of growth in our life. We deny good things for a period so that we can better enjoy God and so that we can be even more appreciative of those good things when we take them up again. Food tasted so good when we left our time in the desert. God is so generous and gracious!

So Fat Tuesday isn't supposed to be about beads and bedlam. It's supposed to be about a preparation for an extended fast during lent. You see lent also is about Jesus--it's a period of time each year that Christians of various denominations choose to intentionally identify with Jesus and His 40 day wilderness fast by either choosing to deny some good thing in their life or by choosing to add an act of devotion to their daily time with God.

What might this denial or addition look like? For some, it might mean getting rid of their ipod for 40 days so they can hear God better. For others, it might mean an extended fast from food, or from entertainment or even from the internet. It also might mean adding by making it a point to volunteer community service during this period. Or making a commitment to serve in the church, or maybe just committing to spending daily time in God's word. All of this so that you might identify in an ever so slight way with Christ's time in the wilderness.

And then, as you approach Easter, the anticipation and the celebration are even greater because during the forty days of lent, you have grown in your intimacy with Jesus, and more than likely, you have grown in appreciation of the Victory He has won in all of our lives through His ultimate sacrifice on the cross and His glorious resurrection.

So today, here's a thought for ya. Spend some time in prayer. Examine your life. Ask God for guidance. Then, as the evening approaches it's end, make a commitment and stick with it until easter. Be realistic and be faith-filled. If you've never gone without food for 40 days, that might be too big of an order. But it might not be too big of an order to deny yourself your favorite foods for lent.

If you feel like it might help you to have a degree of accountability, post your commitment as a comment on this blog--it just might encourage and inspire others!

May God richly bless you as you consider Him more richly during this season!

1 comment:

young wife&mom said...

alright..i confess i do not even want to leave this comment,because then it is in writing...but i am giving up spending money on myself...there i said it.
heres to a long 40 days...