Lenten Obedience or Restoration? Observance or Renewal?
The words struck me so hard that I had to write them down.
“If the day after Easter, nothing is different, what’s the point?”
You can give up chocolate for Lent, and if that brings you closer to God? Why then … knock yourself out. Go for it.
You could give up wine for Lent, and if that revives your spirit? Pour out your open bottles and/or squish down your boxes (whatever applies) and count it as exercise — even call it exercise for the Lord — whatever makes you feel better.
You could choose to observe the Lenten season through the giving up of a bad habit or “sacrificing” by giving up something you love (chocolate, coffee, Kool-aid — whatever … I’m sure the hungry children in Ghana will be impressed. If that’s what you need to do, if that is the cross your spirit calls you to take up? Again, knock yourself out with the effort. There’s someone out there that will be impressed by your faith and service.
BUT. Why not consider something other than a simple obedience to or a superficial observance of Lent? Consider taking up a practice or discipline or service that will leave you changed a day (or many more days) beyond Easter.
If you need a few ideas as to what you can do to live a holy Lent, read the words from Isaiah, chapter 58:
Thus says the high and lofty one who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: Shout out, do not hold back! Lift up your voice like a trumpet! Announce to my people their rebellion, to the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet day after day they seek me and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments, they delight to draw near to God. “Why do we fast, but you do not see? Why humbler ourselves, but you do not notice?”
Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day, and oppress all of your workers. Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to strike with a wicked fist. Such fasting as you do today will not make your voice heard on high.
Is such the fast that I choose, a day to humble oneself? Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush, and to lie in sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast day, a day acceptable to the Lord?
Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from you own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.
The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.