All around the world Christians and non-Christians are talking or hearing talk about this season of change that many churches have named ‘Lent.’ Traditionally it is taught about as a season of fasting. As a child it was all about giving up meat on Wednesday and Fridays, especially Friday. Friday Fish Fries got started this way – the fishermen must have started it, I thought, when I was a child. I thought it was the disciples who were fisherman who started eating fish on Friday – the day Jesus died, maybe fish helped them remember him. That was my childlike faith and since I wanted to be like the disciples I, like my family ate the fish on Fridays.
Then I grew up a little, and I heard the story about the disciples and Jesus after the resurrection and the fish fry they had and then I thought it interesting that the first disciples Jesus called were fishermen and how he said he would teach them how to fish for people and now he was asking them to feed him fish for breakfast.
Then I grew up even more and learned some of the purpose behind the season of lent and about purposeful fasting. I learned it didn’t matter so much that you gave up meat, you could give up candy or soda or any kind of food and that the money and time you spent purchasing and devouring could be given to the Lord’s purpose . . . to the church or a family or person or organization in need or perhaps some of the money and time could be well spent on items that would help mature your own faith life, devotional books, calendars, prayer and thought journals.
Several years ago when I went on a silent retreat I was inspired to consider giving up my own attitudes and will to take IT in – IT being the Spirit of God. Some people talk about having the will of God like it is so easy and natural – but it isn’t, and Jesus never taught that having a holy spirIT filled life would be easy or comfortable.
40 days of fasting in the wilderness is what happened to Jesus after the Spirit of the Lord descended and rested upon him. I don’t know if you’ve ever felt like you are in the wilderness, but this world has a lot of wilderness places where we can find ourselves alone . . . having the Word of God resting in our hearts can help us resist all the things that Jesus resisted.
So, if you’ve never fasted for your own benefit – I’m giving you permission to do that. Not that you need my permission, but more that you need to give yourself permission to give up whatever you want to – an attitude, television, shopping, desserts, coffee, cream, anything and take the time to care for yourself, if you need to do that – and you do – fill yourself with the loving words of God, “Come to me all of you who are tired and weary, afraid, busy, overwhelmed, lost . . . Come to the Lord and allow the Lord to help you care for yourself during this season so that you can care for others feeling a little less pressured, forced or rushed. God loves cheerful giving . . . because God loves you he want you to remember that caring for yourself is a loving thing to do and Jesus wants you to love yourself as well as the Lord and your neighbor – you are in the middle of that equation: Love of God + self + neighbor = the 2nd greatest commandment. The first is to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength . . . maybe give up doubt, fear, or anger toward him . . . toward yourself . . . toward other people . . . let this be a season of letting the Spirit of the Lord Rest Upon You . . . .