Today, Ash Wednesday, marks the beginning of Lent, or the season leading up to Easter. This 40-day season (the Sundays are not counted) are supposed to be a reminder of the 40 days that Jesus was in the desert at the beginning of his ministry. It is typically a time when people of many Christian traditions “give up” something to prepare themselves for Easter.
For some, it is rote. It is something they are supposed to do every year and rather than being a spiritual issue, it is simply traditional to do so.
For some, it is a time of deep spiritual longing, during which they truly are relating to the suffering of Christ.
For some, it isn’t even on their radar.
It depends on how they were raised. It depends on where they are in their faith journey.
Typically we hear about people giving up all kinds of things:
Everything on this list (and most of the things that you would add to it) involves something which we become addicted to in some way or another. We become dependent on these things to get through our day, rather than depending on the Lord.
But the real issue I see is when we “give up” the things on which we are dependent, with what do we replace them? Do we give up coffee and replace it with hot tea? Do we give up chocolate and replace it with Skittles? Do we give up television and replace it with playing games on our iPad?
The whole point of “giving up” something, is to replace it with that which is more important – dependence on Christ.
I’m not sure what Lent looks like for me yet, I am still thinking through it. But if and when I decide what I need to “give up,” I want to make sure that I am filling that space with extra time with the Lord.
If you are considering what to “give up” today, I encourage you to also consider how you will replace it. How will you handle moments of temptation? Where will you turn?