I didn’t realize I had given things up for Lent.
That may sound weird, but I had a different discipline in mind for Lent, which has worked out pretty well (the fasting once in a while stuff). But yesterday I realized that I had given up some other stuff for Lent as well (not anything in the word cloud, as far as I know, except for maybe Charlie Sheen).
I gave up my running Bible study, which I had done once a year since coming to my current church. I was sad, but last year having it during Lent (when the weather was better) meant that I could not devote myself to it and saw it as more of a burden than a joy. I want it to return in some incarnation, but especially with our discipleship emphasis and an extra class to prepare for…I just gave it up.
I gave up a trip to Guatemala this year. Last year, my Lenten Guatemala trip was life-changing for a lovely few of my people, and I got to be a witness to that miracle. But this year, it would not have worked, and so although I’d love to be in Antigua Guatemala drinking the BEST COFFEE OF MY WHOLE LIFE and looking at a volcano, I gave it up.
I gave up having a goal of exercise this Lent. Instead, what’s happened is that our local Y is becoming my happy place, due to me being able to work out while my kids have their lessons or on my day off. It hasn’t been law, but pure grace, and in the meantime I’m getting some awesome exercise.
These conscious decisions, not made for the sake of Lent, have helped this Lent so far to be one of the most peaceful, helpful, CLEAN, grace-ful Lents I’ve ever had. Giving up things that are good in their own right for the sake of being able to fully focus on the task at hand….in this case, helping to lead my church into a future of mission and discipleship…has reaped more blessings than giving up something for its own sake ever could.
I keep coming back to this verse, and it’s not new, but some of the best things are ancient and still wise: “Create in me a clean heart, O God.” Still my prayer, and my prayer for you as well.