Lent is not in the Bible. You don’t have to observe it. In fact, if you do thinking that God will love you more or owe you come Christmas time, then you have another thing coming. That being said, I’m not going to try to convince you to observe Lent here (you can go elsewhere and be convinced).
What I do want to do is simply urge you to spend extended time focusing on the grace of God in the gospel. This is vital for your soul. This doesn’t have to happen during Lent, though Lent is a prime time to do it in community with other Christians.
In case you are unfamiliar, historically Christians have given up–fasted–something during Lent. Why? We fast to deny pleasure to pursue the greater pleasure of knowing, loving, and obeying Jesus. We abandon temporal pleasures in order to see and savor God as our infinite, supreme treasure. With the Word and Spirit working together, by God’s grace, fasting helps us see a bit more clearly. Fasting is a discipline that is designed by God to reinforce repentance and faith. That’s it, and this is what Lent is all about.
This year during Lent, I’m fasting from a few things. One day a week, I am totally abstaining from food. Everyday of Lent (even including Sundays, which are normally not counted among the “40 days”) I am abstaining from Twitter, Facebook, and radio while I drive in my car.
I enjoy food immensely. It is a good gift from God, and my wife is a mediator of said gift. Denying food allows me extra time to gorge myself on God’s word and pour out my heart in prayer. Fasting clears my mind and soul to help me realize how much I depend on food, reminding me that God’s word is what sustains me (Deut. 8:3; Matt. 4:4). Indeed, it reminds me that Jesus is my true food (John 6:35).
The commute to and from work is perhaps one of biggest time wasters in our day. Commuting is only about thirty minutes of my day, but when I only get 1,440 minutes in the day, every one is precious. Turning the radio off allows me to pray, or listen to hymns, Scripture, or spiritually-beneficial podcasts on my iPod. The last thing I need is another half-hour of sports talk radio.
Finally, there’s social media. I think social media can be a good thing, and I try to use it to make much of Jesus. Abstaining from social media can do wonders for the soul. Here’s a few I’ve noticed after just one week:
- I don’t need social media. If it all ended tomorrow, I will be fine and the world will go on.
- The time I save from not mindlessly scrolling through Twitter stockpiles and I am able to accomplish more work more quickly. Why? I’m not distracted and interrupted by the latest or most fascinating tweets. This saved time pays off. During a normal, non-Lenten week, I schedule time to pray at 9am and 3pm. If I have wasted time, these prayer times seem like a burden. If I am diligent in my work and focused throughout the day, I have found I am much more quick to pray when those hours roll around.
- I want to repent, continually, of my self-absorption. One way to practice repentance in this area is to “cut off” opportunities for me to think about whether or not someone will like a tweet enough to re-tweet or favorite it. It also reminds me that whether or not someone “follows me” on Twitter is of no consequence. It is, however, of infinite consequence whether or not someone follows Jesus.
There are more things to be discovered. I hope I am at the tip of the iceberg, and I trust the Lord will be gracious to do his exposing work.
Of course, you’ve already realized that I haven’t fasted from blogging. Blogging is not a daily thing for me, nor is it a time-waster. Writing is soul-searching and is designed, I think, to help process what God shows us. Writing also gives us a window into the life and mind of others, so perhaps what I write about my life will help yours.
P.S. This post was automatically tweeted via WordPress. That’s how it made its way to Twitter!