Wednesday, February 20, 2013

On Why I Won't Give Up Chocolate for Lent

Forty days.

No food or water or people.

I would lose my ever-lasting mind, I think. Just with no one to talk to. No physical person standing there to process and laugh. Let's not even talk about the food and water lacking. Not physically possible for a reason, I think. And I'm glad that I don't have to give up all of those things in preparation for the resurrection, and I know I am selfish.

I've never participated in lent because it feels too religious. It makes me feel chained down by the law and I'm free from that. But if feelings aren't enough, I have some solid ground for my unwillingness to give up _____ these forty days too.

I don't think missing chocolate would leave much of a lasting impression looking back in a few years anyhow. I see sacrifice of a dear Pastor in India who has nothing and gives everything and completely trusts God. I see the persecution and need and I am shamed into ignoring lent altogether because none of my worldly junk given up for a few weeks compares. And yet I know that one day He wipes away all of our tears and I've had my share too—so I have to stop playing those games.

I bet the coffee and chocolate sales plummet during this month or so but I don't really understand it. Withholding myself from chocolate doesn't make me love Jesus more. It doesn't make me pray more. It doesn't lead me to His Word. It's just another diet—with restricting of something to be replaced with another fleshy thing. Like gummy bears. Yum.

I don't think using self-denial as a tool to rely on my own will makes a whole lot of sense since my own flesh never leads down the straight and narrow. Paul reminds us self-denial doesn't stop the flesh either. 

So this year, I added something.

My friend Sydney and I are praying. A lot. At various hours of the day and night. For forty days. At this really sweet prayer room in my town. {If you're a Fayetteville local, sign up here!}

They're keeping it open twenty-four-seven for these forty days of dersert wandering and I pray to get lost there, curled up on that red rug near the back beneath the dim lighting as some sort of music strums to the movement of fingers up front somewhere.

It's a blessing to do this together and very much one of those only God could be the author of this because our hearts are so intermeshed that sometimes when I am in the middle I forget if I'm praying for her or myself. This strong cord is gaining and I don't think it will break, even on those days we both come in heavy and weary. That's been me lately and I walk out persevering because I remember who He is outside of me and my mess.

Oh, He is bigger. 

This time spent looking at the throne feeds that into my deceitful heart and it changes me.

We are specifically asking God to give us vision for international ministry in the weeks and months to come. For next year too. It sounds like God has called us both to stay in Fayetteville for another year and for me it is slightly disappointing in initial glances [at least through these eyes of mine that filter life through my plans and my timing]. But ultimately I know another year[ish] of steadfastness is needed and for His glory as I am learning to trust His plan more then mine. I'm glad we get to do it together!

James talks about asking God for wisdom without doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. Ya'll, that is me! Even last night I found myself on the floor just weeping because I know I am supposed to trust Him and believe He will answer but I don't—I just don't always believe Him.

It's been sweet to see the Lord already answer two specific prayers and I just cannot imagine what these forty days will bring—literally cannot imagine. But it's okay because the talking and worshipping and proclaiming and reading and asking and waiting and trusting and seeing Him work—it's all how faith comes and shields. 

I think prayer drives me deeper into the desert then a lack of chocolate, though I should probably do away with that anyhow.

Prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge for Satan.  
                                                                                    ~ John Bunyan

Do you pray believing God will answer your prayers? How have you seen Him do so this week?

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