I’m afraid we might be missing the point. Ash Wednesday is approaching and the conversations have begun again. Too often they begin with this question: whatcha giving up for Lent? This might be just me but I tire of the underlying, none-to-subtle “competition” that comes with the question. It very well could be that I’m simply feeling guilty about the reality that I’m notoriously bad at “giving something up.” I understand the connection to Jesus’ wandering in the wilderness for 40 days and the temptations he faced but let’s face it, we aren’t Jesus! One of my favorite responses to the question of what you are giving up for Lent? Lent.
Over the years, I’ve encouraged folks to take something on – some practice that will draw them towards God. Regina Brett, a columnist in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, wrote a wonderful essay yesterday about the practice of giving something up or taking something on for Lent. Some folks on Facebook are giving up Facebook for Lent.
I think the question that needs to be asked is how is this act, whether it be giving up or taking on, drawing you closer to God? Giving up chocolate and then whining about it with every person you meet is not drawing you closer to God! Taking on exercise so you can lose 10 lbs. is not drawing you closer to God. If, if, giving up chocolate causes you to reflect on who you are and how God is shaping you as a disciple then do it. If, as you go for your walk, you ponder the Mystery that is, then do it. If steering clear of Facebook leads you instead to sit quietly in the Presence, do it.
It’s about devotion, I think. No, not the “I’m going to do my devotions now.” Rather, how will you devote yourself to the One who has created you and called you and sends you into this crazy, messed up world we live in? Maybe simply pondering and praying over that question would be enough to take on this Lent.