Yesterday marked the beginning of Lent, the days leading up to one of the most precious of holidays if you are a Christian; and today is Valentine's Day. Somehow, the made-up holiday of Valentine's Day doesn't begin to compare to the love story we have in Good Friday, but that is another blog for another day. Today, I want to focus on a tradition of "giving up for Lent."
Those who know me know I have a rather extreme personality and while I am GREAT at starting things, hanging in there for the long term is a whole lot tougher for me. That's why I have never really embraced the idea of giving up things for Lent....well, that and the fact that I've never been Catholic so it's not emphasized in my church.
Still, Lent has been on my mind lately. Then, today I saw a post from a friend who was talking about striving to draw closer to God and become more of who He had created her to be and it struck a note in me. That's what Lent is all about - drawing closer to the One who loved us with such a great love. I want to draw closer to the One who loves me and can love through me.
I've had this thought and today it sort of formed more fully. This year, I won't concentrate on "giving up" for Lent, I'll concentrate on "giving". It's a subtle difference, but one is negative and the other is positive....I like positive.
This year, I want to use the 40 days leading up to Easter to learn to give more like our Father God gives. I am actively looking each day for ways to give - sometimes it's money, sometimes it's an encouraging word, sometimes it's a shoulder to cry on, sometimes it's just a helping hand - but the focus is to pour out myself as Jesus did to those around Him.
I am very excited that this weekend my church is giving us an opportunity to serve those so devastated by the tornado that hit our town on February 10th. We will have the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those who lost so much. This clean up won't happen quickly, so there will be many opportunities to give, both financially and physically to those around us.
Now, I have to be honest - as if I'm really every anything else in this blog - giving doesn't come easy to me. It hits an area where I can be afraid. When you go through almost every month wondering if the money will last as long as the bills, you tend to develop a habit of holding on. I don't often go shopping because that usually means spending. My husband and I rarely go out because that means spending. Lately, we've cut back on everything to try and stretch the paycheck just a little farther. We have learned to pinch our pennies so hard they scream! You get the picture....and now I am talking about a season of giving?
Yeah, I know. It doesn't make sense to me either. I just know that stepping out in faith like this is causing me to have to trust God more, and isn't that what Lent is all about? Relying more on Him and less on me?
So...don't know if you're giving up chocolate for Lent - if so, I'll gladly take it off your hands. Giving up facebook? I will definitely miss you. Giving up alcohol or sugary sodas? Well - don't really drink either, so those you can keep. Me - I'll be working on giving up and giving "me". This could be a very interesting 40 days.
"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." ~Jim Elliot
29-31 Jesus said, “Mark my words, no one who sacrifices house, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children, land—whatever—because of me and the Message will lose out. They’ll get it all back, but multiplied many times in homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and land—but also in troubles. And then the bonus of eternal life! This is once again the Great Reversal: Many who are first will end up last, and the last first.”