I’m fairly late to the Lent game.
Not even casually late. Being casually late is kinda cool.
More like 22 years late.
Growing up, I remember hearing my friends say they were giving up this or that for Lent and thinking, “You’re giving something up for the past tense of the verb ‘lend’? Why? It’s just a word.”
I also remember seeing Ash Wednesday on the calendar and thinking, “There’s a day dedicated to the Pokemon trainer? Can I have a day dedicated to me???”
Close, but not really.
I’ve written about He Reads Truth once already in the past few weeks. I love it so much, I’ll plug it again.
Relationships require communication. They require effort and commitment. If you have a relationship with Jesus, the same is incredibly true. You have to have communication with Him. You have to put in effort to grow closer to Him through denying the things of the flesh in order to live by the Spirit. A relationship with Jesus requires full commitment; there is no halfway.
How do we communicate with God, the One who made the world, created us, and sent His Son to save us? Through reading His Word (God speaking to us) and praying (us speaking to God).
He (and She) Reads Truth takes Scripture and gives applicative commentary for how we can live out what we’ve read, guiding us on how we can pray in response. It’s all online, so all you need to do to get on board is go to hereadstruth.com.
Plug over. Yesterday, since it was Ash Wednesday, He Reads Truth started the Lent 2016 reading plan. Following along with the community reading, I launched the plan and began to read the Scripture associated with the devotional content.
Something that really stuck out to me was what Ash Wednesday really is. Not only does it mark the start of Lent, it’s a day of repentance. I learned that at an Ash Wednesday service, ministers burn the palm fronds from the previous year’s Palm Sunday and use the ashes to mark crosses on parishioners’ foreheads. With every mark, they say, “Remember, mortal, that from the dust you were made, and to the dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19). Simply put: Remember that you have to die.
When I read that, I said, “Dang.” Remember that you have to die. Contained in the Scripture passages are the examples of earthly possessions not lasting in light of eternity. The things we collect in this life will not come with us as we cross into the next. As the old saying goes, “I’ve never seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul.”
Starting on Ash Wednesday, we as believers are called to repent of the materialism that dominates both our conscious and subconscious thinking. We as a culture are too attached to our stuff. We can’t go anywhere without having our smartphones in our pockets, our car keys in hand, our name brand, trendy shoes on our feet, or the hat with our favorite logo on our heads. We love stuff too much.
I love stuff too much. I love having the best guitar equipment and would feel voided without it. I flip through mail-order music catalogs writing down new equipment that I want to save up for and buy. I’m too attached to material things.
I’m learning that Lent is the prescription to the illness of materialism. It’s a two-part remedy to our love of stuff. Part one is giving something up that dominates our attention. Part two is replacing the “void” left by the object with Jesus.
So, now that I understand more what Lent is, what am I giving up?
This year, in my first participation of Lent, I’m giving up Netflix and Hulu Plus.
Why am I giving these things up?
I’ve taken notice of the fact that I have a tendency to not live in the here and now. I tend to want the things that will instantly gratify my desires of entertainment instead of being patient through commercials and the boring parts of TV viewing.
This translates into and influences my desire to speed up the rest of my life, to skip the waiting and get to the “good stuff”: a full-time job after graduation, marriage, financial peace and security, elevated influence, high-efficiency leadership, etc.
So, the only thing over which I have control when it relates to skipping through “life” is instant-streaming media such as Netflix and Hulu Plus, and I’m giving it up in hopes of starting the engine toward patience and enjoying the here and now.
What are you giving up for Lent?