By Nicole DeVries
"Lent starts tomorrow. Have you decided what you are going to give up?”
“I’m giving up school” says my 5 year old. “I’m giving up vegetables” declares the spunky 7 year old girl next to him.
I have a feeling we have missed the point. So follows a discussion about Lent, why we choose to deny ourselves of some pleasure. After much debate, the children establish that you just have to give up something you like because it has to be hard. I find myself content with their conclusion and happy to let that be the lesson learned for this year. It had been a long dinner already and no one wanted to eat their vegetables. We can explore the greater, deeper meaning in the years to come.
But as they leave the dinner table, I am left to wonder, “Do I get it?”
This year I have chosen to forgo the consumption of sweets: candy, desserts, sugary goodness that satisfy my tongue but cause tears of frustration when my jeans get too tight. A friend asks, “Is it taking up your cross if it helps your waistline?” Is this where I am again? I have been in this place before, choosing to give up something that I enjoy with the hopes that it will bring a side benefit of pounds lost, looser jeans, and oh, hopefully a closer walk with Jesus too.
I take a mental inventory of all the things that need to change in my life and I want to give up. I want to walk away from Lent before it even begins. I’ll use my go-to “I’m a failure, that’s why I need a Savior” stance from the get-go. Great plan. I'll give up vegetables too.
And then I read these words “…it is not so much the practice that transforms us. It is our willingness to change. The process is endless. It’s not about getting there, it about being on the way.” My soul turns and hears the call of my Savior. Yes, I am a failure that needs a Savior. But I also desire transformation and he is calling me to such a change.
Matthew tells us that Jesus said:
Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.
Am I willing to lose my life to find Him? Can I deny myself, die to my desires, and follow Him? In the midst of all that needs to be changed, I am choosing something small to surrender to Him. Not because I want to lose a few pounds, but because I know when life feels hard and messy I run to something that will satisfy my tongue, instead of running to the Savior who satisfies my soul. I'll start here.
What about you? What are you denying yourself and why? What do you hope will change during Lent?