Last year I gave up a lot of stuff for Lent. And I complained a lot.
But I also heard from God. A lot.
Hearing from God is the point of Lent for me. Not that I don't hear from him throughout the year, but we have a lot of buzz and jangling in our spiritual ears. Somehow--and this is one of those mysterious spiritual things--going without food clears the spiritual hearing.
In the past I tried giving up Facebook for Lent. Nice idea. But it didn't open those lines of spiritual communication.
Some people think that giving up something is supposed to help us relate to the suffering of Christ. Maybe. Maybe that works for some people and that's great. It doesn't work for me because I can't see that giving up chocolate or meat or even all food comes close to the sacrifice that God of the Universe made when he stepped into human skin and took on the sin of the world.
So, I don't even look at my sacrifice that way. I don't even look at is as a sacrifice. I look at it as a tool. Somehow, giving up something that my physical, fleshy body loves and craves helps me see and hear God.
It's pretty simple really. And of course, this could be done any time during the year. I don't have to wait until Lent. And sometimes, I don't.
But the timing of Lent is such that as I open my ears to God and seek His face with more intention, I'm also reminded of how desperately I need a Savior. Not just when I was nine years old. Not only to get me into Heaven. But I need a Savior every single day. Every day I need Him in order to not be who I would be without Him.
Then as Holy Week arrives, I see my savior coming through the gates amidst palm branches waving and I am relieved and thrilled to shout Hosanna~~Come save now!
(I don't want to imply that this is a formula. Christianity is not formulaic. It may well turn out that this year I give up some things and God is honored and that's it. There is no guarantee that I will have some wonderful heavenly conversation just because I go without some of my favorite foods. Still, I do it for God's glory.)