The Lenten tradition, in all of its interdenominational controversy, is something I view as a truly beautiful opportunity.
Teaching a high population of Catholic children has reminded me of the importance placed by the general population of Catholics on removing vices from our lives during Lent (fasting). A valuable practice when the removal of said vices yields the intended outcome.
Given that our “Sunday Church Society” has reduced the amount of discipleship that happens in our lives, leading to a common misunderstanding of the practice of fasting, some churches have encouraged members to take on something new and not worry about giving anything up. They are encouraging personal growth and self development. This is also a natural fast, however it is disguised by the presentation of the outcome as the practice rather than vice versa.
For example, if I were to commit to giving up half an hour of television per day during Lent the first practice would argue that I could replace that time with prayer. The second practice would say that I should commit to an extra half hour of prayer per day and to do so by giving up a half an hour of television. Ipso facto… same thing.
I would like to enter this argument on the side of Lent being a time for fasting no matter how you categorize it and for that reason would like to introduce Isaiah 58. In my opinion it is the best description of proper fasting in the Bible. Let me highlight a few pieces that strike my heart…
1) Verse 2: ” For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God.”
Just like the goats in Jesus parable found in Matthew 25 the people fasting here do not know that they are angering God. When we stop reflecting on our actions and how we sin we quickly fall away from God’s will for our lives.
2) Verse 5: “Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves?”
3) Verses 13 and 14: “If you keep your feet from doing as you please on my holy day or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the LORD.” (edited for conciseness’ sake; I don’t believe I compromised the meaning).
It is an organization that I have grown to love and trust. Their resources are amazing and amazingly helpful if you are too busy to dream up your own ideas. JOIN ME! It isn’t too late and I will be chronicling my adventure through Lent HERE on this blog. Have a great evening/day/Lenten experience whatever you choose.