Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Centerpiece of Lent

It was the fortieth day or the last day of Lent several years ago and I happened to be standing at the checkout counter in our local grocery store and couldn't help but notice the lane right next to me and the commotion going on.

 Seeing how it's usually my lane where all the commotion is.

At least when I take all five of them into the store with me anyway.

But on this particular day, the commotion was one lane over from me.

The checkout lady laughed with the gentleman and made a comment about how he must just really love potato chips.

She was busy laughing and ringing up at least twenty bags of every type of chips known to man.

And gracious I love chips. 

But what really struck me in that moment were the following words.

"I gave up potato chips for Lent."

And as someone who has great respect for the Lenten season and with full understanding that it is customary to give up something, a personal sacrifice of sorts, during this beautiful season....

I couldn't help but think about the main thing. 

The centerpiece of Lent.

The purpose and the reason and the whole point of these forty days.

Every, single thing during the forty days of Lent is to serve a greater purpose.

To strip us of ourselves and our own selfish desires and to press down the flesh.

For the "less of me and more of you" Lord purpose.

So that we can possibly even grow closer. Know Him more deeply. More intimately. More wondrously.

So that He can speak in some way and we will actually know His prompting, His leading, His guidance.

And for this.

So that we can love more deeply and serve others in a more selfless way.

So I'm just wondering, if potato chips and the like serve as a hindrance in our walk and we give them up for forty days....

Why on earth would we ever take up the eating of potato chips again?

If we are really sacrificing and laying aside real hindrances.

Isn't everything we do during those 40 days really about what happens on the 41st day?

And then every day after that?

Are Diet Coke, chocolate, potato chips, shopping and Facebook the real hindrances?

And if they are....

If those really are the things that keep us from growing closer to Him which keep us from loving others well and serving others with the right heart and the right spirit....

Why on earth are we standing in line to consume it all again on the forty first day?

And if those things are not the real hindrances ...

Which things are? 

Isn't that what we need to sacrifice and give up and lay aside....permanently?

Do we really want to love others well and do life with a heart of servitude and be quick to listen and slow to speak and meet the needs of those around us? Do we really want to know the prompting and leading and guidance of His sweet spirit in our lives?

These are just a few of the things I've asked myself this week.

Am I quick to just dismiss others when they hurt me or do I love others well- even in times of suffering in friendship and relationships?  Am I careful with the hearts of my family members and loved ones? Am I any kind of an example of the love of Christ to my three daughters? Do I demonstrate His great love to my three sons? Do I love my husband well at all times, no matter what? Or am I quick to want to be understood instead of seeking to understand. Am I a voice of reason and love and compassion toward others or am I demanding and insisting on my own way? Do I handle conflict with love and kindness or am I looking to be right and to be heard? Am I serving others and encouraging hearts or am I showing up with my own agenda? Do I speak life over others or am I quick to complain and point out their shortcomings? 

I know for certain that there is more than forty days worth of flesh that needs to be stripped from my own heart and I want to be willing and obedient to lay aside anything and everything that serves as a hindrance during this beautiful season.

May He be moved into the rightful position of centerpiece during the next forty days for each and every, single one of us sweet friends. 


Sheri said...

perfect. as usual. you totally rock!

Love Being A Nonny said...

Love your heart!

{A*very} Blessed Life said...

I grew up a Baptist girl who went to Catholic schools. I felt and still believe I had the best of both worlds in being a part of two varying faith backgrounds. It taught me that God is the same no matter which faith denomination you practice. As I grew up, I remember not particularly liking the season of Lent. The reasons did not become clear to me until later as to why I didn't like Lent. As a child I focused on the giving up part of something such as candy or ice cream or whatever else I may have chosen. I was woeful to have to try and live without something for 4o whole days and felt I was a failure if I broke my promise. The whole meaning of Lent was lost upon me, but not because of my teacher's lack of teaching me the true meaning. It was rather that I did not connect the act of giving up something with the act of allowing God to transform me and draw me nearer to him through my denial of my own desires. What I learned as I grew older was that Lent was about giving up "self" in order to make room for God. As an adult, I look at the season of Lent as you have beautifully described it here as a time to draw nearer to God and to prepare my heart for the day of Easter and beyond as he transforms me through my giving up of "self." Instead of giving up some thing, I try and make more room for other people such as intentionally looking them in the eye and listening to my family, friends, and strangers and intentionally seeing God living right there in every single person I meet. What I have found is that at the time of Easter, I am resurrected and transformed and I truly want to continue living in that way beyond the season of Lent. Thank you Sibi for writing this post. I think that the true meaning of Lent is indeed lost on the act of giving something up just for the sake of giving it up.

RachelRAdams said...

Sibi ~ This is great. It really asks a powerful question, what is more important? If we are honest, it cuts deep... Thank yuo for writing.

Brittany said...

I didn't grow up Catholic, so I don't know a lot about lent yet... but I read somewhere that Lent isn't just about giving up something that is horrible for you. It's also about practicing self-sacrifice and self-discipline for the sake of it. Because these are skills that get better with practice. Self-discipline with potato chips is supposed to translate into better self discipline with other, more important things. (Although why you don't just skip to the more important things, I don't know)

Anyways... I'm giving up yelling at my kids. I'm going to rely on God to help me do this instead of just "trying harder" to be a good mom. So hopefully it sticks.

Tiffany said...

This is why I read here...over and over...this is why I love when you post something. Truth... Every.Single.Time. :)

The Subtle Details said...

What a powerful question, one I will continue to contemplate during this Lenten season.