Did you “give up” something for Lent? Perhaps you are reading your Ankeny Living magazine, missing the potato chips or cookies you “gave up.” Maybe it’s a Facebook feed, Internet site, or TV show that is absent. Don’t worry… just a little while longer and Lent will be over. Cookies, potato chips and Facebook for everyone!
This brings to mind a theme I’ve observed during Lent. It’s crazy to me how much we look forward to Lent being over. We temporarily remove something from our lives as a sacrifice. For some, it is to honor the sacrifice Jesus made for us, or maybe it is a reminder of the blessings we take for granted. But we can’t wait for the day when we will taste chocolate or rejoin social networks again. In these temporary sacrifices, in Lenten rituals that become more tests of willpower than sacred empty spaces, we miss out on giving things up… for good.
Before you gasp at the thought of never eating a chocolate bar again, perhaps consider what it means to sacrifice for “good.” A wise person once told me that empty spaces don’t stay empty for long. The time we spent on Facebook or Twitter will get filled with something else. The calories we once consumed in the junk food we gave up will get replaced… unless we have a plan “for good.”
You’ve got a few weeks left. When you consider eating some food you gave up for Lent, think instead about what it is like to be hungry and have no food. Pray for those who have no food to give up. Volunteer at a food pantry or local church that serves meals to those who don’t have the luxury of substituting carrots for candy. When you think about watching the TV show you gave up, look out your window to see your neighborhood full of people who could use 30 minutes of time in conversation or support.
What good is it to sacrifice when the joy only comes in getting back what we gave up? Christ gave His life for us, not so He could have life again, but so that we could have life abundantly. Who knows? Maybe the joy or contentment you find in sacrificing “for good” won’t be something you stop doing when Lent comes to a close. Maybe you’ll give up chips, chocolate, or social media “for good”… and for good.
First United Methodist Church
206 S.W. Walnut St.
Ankeny, IA 50023