Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Season of Lent

It's that time of year again. Time to break out Celebration of Discipline (Foster) and browse through "what to give up for Lent" on Google. Wait, is that just me?

The motive behind fasting for Lent is the hardest part for me. Richard Foster writes, "Physical benefits, success in prayer, the enduing with power, spiritual insights -- these must never replace God as the center of our fasting." Maybe I'm alone in this, but putting God at the center of my fasting is often rather difficult. I can't help but think of the benefits of fasting. I have to remind myself that, first and foremost, my fasting is an act of worship to God and to God alone.

The secondary purpose of fasting is to discover what controls us (Foster). It's not just about what I choose to give up, how much I will miss it, how much I long for it, and all of that. It's about what is hidden underneath. Anger, pride, jealousy, fear... all of those spirits come to light. During fasting, God makes us keenly aware of what is within us.

This year, Blake and I are celebrating Lent together. I say "celebrate" because it really is a celebration. Though fasting is the removal or withdrawal or absence of something, the void of that thing is filled with the Spirit! And, at the end of Lent, is the beautiful grace of God displayed through the crucifixion and resurrection of His son.

Discipline is hard. Discipline is not pretty. But, "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." (Hebrews 12:11)

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