When I checked into the hospital before the birth of my youngest child, I thought, “This is my last happy hospital patient experience. No good thing will ever bring me here again as a patient,” inspiring a subsequent avoidance of doctors and annual check-ups. What pleasant thing is going to come out of that? I’m only going to find out things I don’t want to know and possibly be deprived of something I like.
In a similar way, I’ve avoided Lent for the past few years. It’s kind of edgy and entirely optional to observe Lent as a Baptist. My first season as a practicing Lentonite I discovered a couple of things:
- I am a lot more dependent on Diet Coke than I thought.
- Fasting makes me mean.
So once the coolness of observing Lent as a Protestant faded, I was left with the practical knowledge that it’s really hard to give up my distractions and coping mechanisms. And when I brazenly charge ahead and do it anyway, a lot of ugly and unpleasant bubbles to the surface.
What’s the point, then, of subjecting myself to this yearly process? I love this quote from the Lent Project at Biola…
The sacrificial season of Lent is a time for us to purposefully go deeper with Christ through reflection, action and renewal. Its structure offers practical ways to increase our devotion and love for Christ. If the church is indeed a hospital for the sick and wounded, then it follows that Lent is its yearly physical and annual tune-up. The Lent Project
I’m in need of a tune-up. Small habits – obsessively checking my phone for the latest political developments, empty food, mindless spending – seem small, but they drain me and elbow out better things. So, along with much of the the Christian church, in a faint and feeble imitation of Jesus in the desert, I’m participating in the annual check up of Lent this year. Cutting out some things that need to go. Naming my sin. Looking at what I prefer to ignore.
Naming sin is what I see in the Lectionary readings this week. An acknowledgement of where we’ve been as a people – led astray from good and right things by something that looked small…
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Genesis 3:6
A picture of what it does to us to cling to the things that pull us away from God…
For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Psalm 32:3-4
A path to follow…
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. Matthew 4:1-2
And hope in the knowledge that the hardest work has already been done…
And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. Romans 5:16
So, thank you Kara for prompting me, heels dragging, toward this annual check-up.