February 17, 2010

My First Lenten Journey

I'm observing Lent for the first time, but in a quite unorthodox manner.  I have to say, I'm going at it a bit in the dark.  I've never observed Lent in any way before, except maybe to say different prayers at a liturgical church we attended when I was 12.  And one other memory is that one day a volcano erupted while I lived in Alaska and showered more than an inch of ash on Ash Wednesday. Clearly spiritual events, you can see!

I'm also going into it with a number of questions that probably make me sound quite skeptical.  What is the root of it, really, since it has no official basis in scripture?  (Not to mention that John Piper and John MacArthur have starkly opposing views on it!  How's that for confusing?!)   If I make sacrifices to grow closer to the Lord and avail myself more to Him, why should I only do these for forty days?  Shouldn't I give as much after Easter as before?  I'm always very leery of participating in something just because every body else does.  I don't want to jump in to and commit to something that isn't what the Lord is asking of me

So why am I observing something about which I have really no clue?  :)  I really don't know if it is Lent I'm observing or that it just happens to be at the same time.  I know that sounds ridiculous!  But I'm just being real!  It's probably just a matter of semantics, but one thing I guess I feel the need to have clear in my head is that an observance of Lent as a ritual draws me no nearer to him.  Randomly selecting something to give up without the Lord asking me to give them up is a recipe for failure for me, and I don't think it will really draw me nearer to Him.  

But I have been feeling for some time that I needed to give up, control, set limits, reduce time on, etc. Facebook and the Five In a Row message board.  These are two things that I allow to steal time from the good things I should be doing.  The reason they are such good time robbers is that they steal 3 minutes at a time.  I get distracted knowing it's just a minute, then chase conversations, threads, or photos until I've been there for 20 minutes.  And no, while I couldn't have gotten my dishes done in 3 minutes, I sure could have finished them in 20! I could have done a puzzle with Jacob, read a book to Mattie, cleared off my table, made a call on a bill, started dinner, cleaned the bathroom, etc.  You get the idea.  My lack of self-control with these two things has turned into outright sin that is hurting my main responsibility: managing my home.  So I'll be staying off these two websites except for Sundays, unless Sunday comes and I feel like I should avoid them too.  I'm still praying about it and I trust I'll know when Sunday comes.

My one other biggie that I hesitate to mention is coffee, because this is the true spiritual fast for me.  The Lord spoke this to me loud and clear.  I was hoping I heard wrong!  Coffee is an emotional beverage for me.  It reminds me of my growing up family, sitting around together visiting, loving each other.  There is comfort, familiarity and security in it.  And as ridiculous as it sounds, that is comfort, familiarity and security I need to be finding in Him as opposed to my favorite mug full of warmth, cream, and sugar.  

I'm praying that the Lord will draw me nearer to Him as I set my time apart for Him.  I'm praying that I will serve my family well and bring glory to Him as I'm more diligent with each and every minute of my days.  I'm praying that I would seek Him for familiarity, security and comfort.  And I'm praying that He would provide some answers on the entire season of Lent for starters!  If you know of any books or links written from an evangelical Christian perspective that have helped in your understanding of Lent, I'd be thankful if you'd share them.


Kjirstin C said...

I will definitely be praying for you and will often think of it - as I'm praying for mysefl! So far it's been 2 1/2 days of no sweets. Today's test - a wedding where I can't eat the cake!

Melissa said...

Of all sweets to avoid, wedding cake would be the easiest for me. It's yucky to begin with!

But I'll be praying for you. :)

Linda said...

Not to be argumentative or get in between you and a decision you believe God has called you to make, but is there not something to be said for enjoying the blessings of things we have rom His hand? Such as coffee?

I guess if you find too much joy, comfort and security in it, then it's a problem, but just to have a good cup of coffee? Is there something inherently wrong in that?

BTW, I LOVE reading your posts on here, and don't think you write ANYthing without much thought and prayer having been put into it!

See you in 48 hours or less! LY

Melissa said...

I hear what you're saying, Mom, but He gives us enjoyable food, yet calls people to fast regularly and did Himself.

For me, it's not just not a cup of coffee, it's the 3-4 cups a day with cream and sugar I was having instead of nutritional food. It was a cup of coffee because I was bored or wanting something sweet. And my coffee was no "low points" coffee, so I can tell I've been having too much if you catch my drift!

But it's not just a choice of discipline like when I did WW, I knew this is something He wanted me to do for this time. I'm not being legalistic about it. :)