Removing attention from my personal needs, focusing on the needs of others, and developing a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. This is my goal for Lent.
When I think of sacrifice and the Bible two things come to mind: Christ’s sacrifice for us on the cross and the sacrifices made in the Old Testament. Additionally, when I am thinking about sacrifice in my own life it usually means giving up something (usually something I really enjoy) for the purpose of promoting something else. Like many other Christians, this Lenten season I will be giving up a list of distractions in order to focus more on Christ and the needs of those around me. My fasting will begin on Ash Wednesday and last 46 days.
Here is how I will be fasting and sacrificing. I will be waking up when my alarm first goes off so that I am not wasting my mornings lying around. As small or obscure as this act seems to be, for me this will require me to focus more being intentional about taking care of my personal needs (rest) and not wasting time with activities which do not matter. I will not be using Facebook so that I might devote more time to studying, devotion, and reconnecting with friends: removing a distraction. To me social media can be a blessing and also a curse. It is all too easy to feel connected with friends because you can see their “lives” play out online but know absolutely nothing about what is really going on. Finally, I will be eliminating meat in order to remind myself that there are people throughout the world (even in my local community) who will not have the opportunity to eat on any particular day.
16‘And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 17But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:16-18, NRSV)
When I reflect on this scripture I am reminded of the people that we all know who begrudgingly give up something during Lent because they “have to”. Chocolate, coffee, cussing, we all know the drill. I was one of those people. Giving something up, sacrificing a luxury in my life because I had to. During the period of Lent I never took the time to reflect on why I was giving up something and what I could replace that luxury with.
So my challenge this Lent is to remove three simple luxuries from my life and not lose sight of why I am doing this. My hope is that this simple act of fasting and sacrifice will allow me to develop a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ and re-focus the priorities that I have laid out for myself.