Many people commemorate the 40-days before Easter by choosing to fast in some way. Some give up chocolate, caffeine or food in general. Others turn off media outlets or choose to wake up a bit earlier every morning, a sacrifice of sleep, to spend more time with God.
The big idea is to identify with Christ in His suffering and focus that time or desire more fully on Him. I didn’t grow up practicing this tradition but I like the idea of having a tangible reminder that redirects me back to Jesus.
Yesterday when I answered the question about what I didn’t want Jesus to ask me to give up – it revealed (again) an area of dependence in my life, sugar.
I move toward sugary snacks out of familiarity, routine, boredom and a desire for comfort. That might sound bazaar to some of you but it’s true for me. Sugar influences my day more than God does at times. It’s a substance that I have to continually evaluate and guard against or an unhealthy dependence begins again. I am in a season of unhealthy dependence right now.
For this 40-day fast, I could have chosen something easier – something that would have been inconvenient to give up for 40 days but would have ensured “success” at the end. But in light of the passage in Matthew 19:16-30, I couldn’t help but sense that I would have been only trying to look religious and in doing so might miss the presence of God with me. The young man in Matthew was calculated about his worship and he walked away when real sacrifice was required. When Jesus upped the ante and asked the young man for his the things he depended on apart from God, the young man walked away, sad.
I do that. I give in to things like sugar because they don’t require anything from me. In the next 40 days I want to bring those sin patterns to God. I want all facets of my life to bow to Him alone.
Should I fail to resist sugars hollow charms at some point over the next few weeks, I want to keep my error in perspective with these questions. Maybe they will be a help to you as well.
What is your hope for Easter Sunday? Do you want to celebrate how much self-control you have? Or, do you want to celebrate the fact that you have a great Savior who meets you in times of defeat?