The answers don’t surprise. Chocolate, alcohol and social media consistently top the list, along with bread, meat, eating out, television, Netflix, Starbucks, shopping, cheese – anything that will make us feel deprived and slightly miserable for 40 days.
As if this is what God is looking for.
As much as I love cheese, I wish it were that simple. These words come to mind: Unless you give up everything you cannot be my disciple. That’s the NIV version. Other versions say we have to give up everything we own, renounce all we have, surrender all and give up all we possess. The Message version, in typical no-holds-barred fashion, says:
Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be my disciple.
Kiss it goodbye.
What is dearest to you? We need to think beyond possessions and cravings, beyond our careers and education, beyond our hopes and dreams, beyond even our families and friends. In truth, what is dearest to us is our personal right to ourselves. We cling to the right to make our own choices, decide our own paths, control our circumstances. To do and say what we want, to eat and drink and consume as much as we want whenever we want.
To be a follower of Jesus means we are not our own – we were bought with a price.
For me, during this Lenten season, it is not enough to give up this or that. I want to be hungry. I want to feel physical hunger each day to make room for spiritual hunger. I want to die a thousand little deaths day by day, choosing His will over my own. When my introvert self craves solitude but a friend needs to talk. When I want to escape in a dozen mindless ways so I don’t have to feel or think, but God wants me to be present, aware, listening – to live each day in a moment-to-moment posture of abandonment. When God wants death to work in me so life can work in others.
Not to punish myself – that’s pointless. Not to improve my spiritual condition so that I feel better about myself – that’s not the point either. But to seek Him with all my heart because He asks me to and He promises – I will be found by You.
As you follow Jesus on this Lenten journey, what is it that you are looking for?
Scripture verses: Luke 14:33; 1 Corinthians 6: 19,20; 2 Corinthians 4:12; Jeremiah 29:13-14