The season of Lent began on February 14 this year. Valentine's Day!! A lot of people give up chocolate for Lent....but on Valentine's Day???? Well.....isn't that what Lent is about? Denying ourselves of something pleasurable to focus more on the sacrifices of Jesus! When you think about what He went through....not eating chocolate seems like such a trivial thing! Some people will give up meat, or dairy, or sweets in general. ANYTHING we lay down as a sacrifice is honorable! It's only for 40 days, right?! That means we still have 30 days left to do just that!
So....give up some food if you choose to. I have another challenge for you....give up something that might increase your spiritual life even more than denying yourself the pleasures of one of your favorite foods....OR.....at least add to that!
Give up that grudge you've been holding on to! Do you even remember why you're holding that grudge....or how long it's been? How is that benefiting you or the other person? Make that phone call, email, or write that letter in the next 30 days! Move past it! Apologize if you need to. Forgive & reconcile....how ever that looks. Life is TOO SHORT....just ask someone who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness...or someone who has just lost a loved one! Don't wait until it's too late!
Give up fear! What are you allowing fear to hold you back from? 2 Timothy 1:7 says "God has not given you a spirit of fear, but of power & love & a sound mind." What would you do if you knew you could not fail? Attempt to try something you fear... this month....what have you got to lose?....a little pride....embarrassment.....effort? Go ahead....you might be surprised that it wasn't as scary as you anticipated it to be! Remind yourself of Deuteronomy 31:6, "Be strong & of good courage, do not fear or be afraid!"
Give up stress! You might be thinking that's impossible! Some stress is good for us...but I mean give up that stress that is causing you sleepless nights, physical ailments, worry & anxiety. We are told to "Cast ALL our cares on Him, for He cares for you!" (1 Peter 5:7) But do we? Or...do we...but then take it back on ourselves? Think of a fisherman.....he casts his line out in the water, but then he reels it back in.....that's NOT what we want to do....we want to cast it & leave it in God's hands to take care of. He is well able! We might have to practice this over & over....but just that act will keep our minds on Him! The opposite of stress is PEACE! INTENTIONALLY strive for peace for 30 days!
Give up a negative mindset! This is a huge challenge if you have been thinking like this for long. The Word says to "take each thought captive to the obedience of Christ"(2 Cor 10::5)...& "have the mind of Christ" Can you imagine Jesus thinking to himself, "I am so stupid!" or "This hair of mine is just so stringy & my nose is entirely too long...I am just plain ugly!" It's comical to even entertain that idea! We think similar thoughts about ourselves all the time....and even worse! To have the mind of Christ, we need to BE AWARE of what we are thinking! If it isn't TRUE, honorable,right,pure, lovely, admirable, (Phil 4:8) then we must CHANGE our thoughts.
Why not give up a bad habit! Bad habits can change! Whether it's over-eating, watching too much tv, biting your nails, smoking, cussing, sleeping too much....or not enough, too much screen time, grumbling & complaining. Just choose one to focus on to let go of this lent! Replace whatever it is with ......more prayer, praise & worship, Bible study, memorization, silence, or meditation...whatever draws you closer to the Savior! THAT'S what lent is REALLY all about! Give up something that will allow you to grow your relationship with HIM!