It had been one of those days. Those half a tub of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream was gone kind of days. And I am a vanilla-liking girl! I also tend to stay away from dairy as it can disagree with my digestion from time to time. Knowing that my self-control was out of control, I poured hot water over the remaining ice-cream until it was only a mush of brown slime in the kitchen sink while trying to keep my late mother’s voice in my thoughts from interfering: “What about those starving children in Africa?”
I wasted good ice-cream that is also a perfect for a treat for my grandchildren due to my insatiable desire to feel better with a wordly item. I mindlessly overindulged to try to relieve and distract myself from what I considered a bad day. And then a short time later I read Sandi Somers' words, our first post for this month's topic of Lent.
A good friend described self-denial as a sacrifice, giving up something that’s hard to do. Perhaps excesses or preoccupations or distractions."
Jesus always meets us where we are at, doesn't He?
Drawing closer to God from the Lenten practice of Self-denial
Removing what gets in our way of our relationship with God and repenting of our sins clears space for prayer and reverence of Christ’s sacrifice for us on the cross. Abstaining from something, even fasting, is often used to observe Lent. During my years in elementary school, I remember the religion class exercise of writing what I would give-up for the Lenten season. Generally this would be cookies after dinner, chewing gum, or spending my allowance on chocolate bars. Now with a maturer faith, I understand that self-denial of something is not just an act of obedience to observe Lent, but to draw closer to God in remembrance of the sufferings of Christ. Whenever I choose to use an improper worldly way that takes control of my life, I move toward sin rather than toward God.
So, this Lenten season I am going to back to my childhood ways of observing lent, however with a maturer intention of repentance and remembrance. Instead of mindlessly binging on Netflix or purchasing a single serving of cake, I will reach for God’s presence in prayer. When I am troubled and worrisome, instead of seeking comfort in ways that lead to over indulgence and sin, I will seek out His words either in my bible or in my bible app on my phone ( that is readily available when grocery shopping). These acts of self-discipline will take effort! They will also strengthen faith.
Is there something that is taking control over your life leading to sin? Is there something in your life to give-up to help you remember the sufferings of Christ on the cross? What can you do that will turn your heart in remembrance and repentance toward the suffering of Christ this Lenten season?
I pray you draw comfort, too, this Lenten season, in remembering that God’s grace is not earned, but a gift from His Son’s sacrifice on the cross.
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope-the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. (NIV) Titus 2:11-14