[tweetthis display_mode=”box”]I’m giving Him me in all my transparency, honesty and nakedness. That’s a real rending of the heart. @theharvestmag[/tweetthis]
What Are You Giving Up for Lent? Does It Matter?
Joel 2: 12-13
Kimberly N. Alleyne
The Harvest Magazine, Publisher and Editor
Ash Wednesday marks the 40-day period of reflection and sacrifice, excluding Sundays, before Easter. Christians honor the ultimate sacrifice displayed by the Christ when He laid down His life for mankind at Calvary. Although our sacrifices could never measure up to His, we show are thankfulness by giving up “things” during this time.
For many individuals, Lent prompts fasting, prayer, repentance and a search for renewal and strength. Some sacrifice chocolate or sugar, alcohol, entertainment, sex, or any symbol of pleasure or frivolity. This year I was preparing to fast; I fast during every Lenten season. But something was different this year. I felt that I’d slipped into a rote, robotic, calendar bound, empty behavior — a behavior that, despite my sincerity, had morphed into a religious, traditional, burdensome “activity.” And in some ways, it had become a legalistic activity, which stinks of lukewarmness. I never thought of myself as going through the motions with the things of God. I routinely seek His face out of desperation for His presence. And I look forward to Lent because it is an awesome time of personal and corporate praise, cleansing, and new beginnings. But something was pricking me in my spirit…something was different.
Why fast during Lent? Can’t I show contriteness and my love of the Lord during other times? Am I fasting to show my love of God, or to prove to myself that I can go without [something] for 40 days? What exactly is the nature of my self-imposed time of reflection, repentance and sacrifice? Does it amount to anything?
I felt the need to do a heart check. I sat quietly before the Lord and allowed Him to search me deeply. I asked myself why I wanted to fast, and I realized that I wanted to fast because I feel closer to the Lord when I fast, and because I needed to empty. I felt grimy and polluted with soulish stuff. I felt weighed down with gunk, stuff that does not make God smile.
I kept thinking and communing with the Lord, and I realized that the “activity” does not matter to God if my heart is not clear, if it is not completely submitted to Him.
If I am carrying anger, hatred, bitterness, resentment or unforgiveness, then no length of fasting, no sacrifice is worthy of God’s attention. If I am not walking in, talking in and showing His love, then nothing I do matters much. God does not ask much from us.
“He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you Except to be just, and to love [and to diligently practice] kindness (compassion), And to walk humbly with your God [setting aside any overblown sense of importance or self-righteousness]?” Micah 6:8, AMP
IN THE HEART
So I decided to put more focus on my heart issues than on what I am eating or not eating or watching for the next 40 days. My sacrifice is a part of my expression of my love of God and the Lamb, and of my submission to Him. But I know that He is far more concerned with my heart, and what’s flowing out of it. He wants me to walk in love, mercy, and compassion. I can do that; but to do that I gotta surrender the gunk. I gotta leave my bags behind. When I think about how the Lord carried His own cross, His Passion, how dare I cling to such petty and destructive things such as fear, pride, anger and offense? God has big work for His children to perform in this age. I am revved up to walk in my purpose, but I need a healthy heart for the journey.
I probably will fast at some time during this Lenten season, but I am going to make pursuing a clean heart and making God smile my first priorities. This, Lent, is not about me. It’s about Him, and He wants me more than my sugar or soda. I’m giving Him me in all my transparency and honesty and nakedness — that’s a real rending of the heart.
“Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning:
And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. Joel 2: 12-13