Many people like to give up things for Lent. I will get on my soap box one more time and say that, most of the time, people don’t know why they are doing it. They are supposedly suffering for some reason, but they are not sure why or what the point is. I love to ask Catholics why they give up meat on Fridays. Many times even they have no clue why they do it. Are you curious as to how this practice started? A long time ago a Pope suggested it might be a good way to reflect on what Jesus did for us. It was nothing more than a suggestion. That was it. Yet now, it is so often taken as truth. I would rather see us take on a new habit than sacrifice a bad one. In our discipleship model we talk about reading 1 verse a day. I suggest that you pick up that piece rather than give something up.
Yet, sacrifice is important. Recently I was talking to the young adults about my favorite CS Lewis quote, “The man who fights off temptation for 10 minutes doesn’t know what it’s like to fight off temptation for an hour.” We, who fight against the devil on a daily basis, know that this kind of sacrifice is hard. Both of the stories we read this weekend are heartbreaking. Abraham was asked to sacrifice his son! Even considering such a request was truly hard. I can’t imagine what it was like for him to walk up that mountain thinking about what he was about to do – kill his long-awaited only son.
The same is true of Jesus. Here was this sinless man/God who was facing temptation. This has to be a time when Jesus realizes anew the challenge living on Earth was going to be. Of course, Jesus took on the ultimate sacrifice for us as He walked the road to Calvary and gave up His life – the road we deserved and were supposed to walk ouselves.
Lent is that time to reflect on sacrifice, the blessings God gives, and our personal lives and how we can take time to grow in Him. As you take time to hear these stories one more time, I encourage you to think of the sacrifice of your Savior, but also the sacrifice we each make as we take on the devil and try and develop holy habits our Lord has taught us. The devil is sneaky and tries to attack us. It is only by grasping the sacrifice Jesus endured for us that we can grow to fully understand Lent. Trust me, this is much more powerful than giving up Dr. Pepper or chocolate. I pray that God guides you into that deep reflection on Him this Lenten season.