Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lenten Promises Leading to Religious Habits

I have always given up something for lent- similar to Dr. McDonald’s story, I attempted to give up homework one year (I figured that, because I went to a Christian school, it was more likely to fly with them!). Now that I’m eighteen and I truly feel that I can grasp just a little bit of God’s desire for us to be with him, I am conflicted and feel that Lent is a little overrated. We take on new challenges that should are supposed to grow us closer to the Lord in forty days. I think a lot of youths (and probably some adults, too!) see Lent as a sprint to acomplish the goal of self-denial and reach their "destination" after forty days of satisfaction in knowing they did the "right thing". Don’t get me wrong, shedding those few pounds and staying faithful to your daily devotions is great, but, why should it only last forty days? Shouldn’t we, as Christians, be striving to grow closer every day?

Lent is a great jumping point, but what happens after the forty days are up? Is my self-sacrifice supposed to end?

Mama always told me that “It takes thirty days to create a habit!” (nail-biting has always been an issue with me…). So, for this Lenten season, I have decided to give up and take on some things, naturally, but my real Lenten promise is to continue these practices after Lent ends. If the purpose of sacrificing Facebook time for reading my Bible helps me to grow with God, then why wouldn’t I keep going after Easter?! Now, I’m not suggesting we starve ourselves of Double-cheeseburgers from McDonalds for the rest of our lives, but if we find that our Lenten sacrifices have strengthened our relationship with God, then let’s make it a habit, not just a forty day purge.


  1. Great perspective. We tend to see the "rules of the game" as (1) choose one thing to do/give up, (2) start on Ash Wednesday, (3) end on Easter. We work best within defined parameters. I am glad God doesn't work that way!!

  2. Katherine, I agree with you in many ways. Last night in worship Dr. McDonald so clearly interpreted for me what Jesus meant in Matthew when he warned about celebrating our fasting, giving, and praying in public. "They have their reward." So if, during Lent, we give up chocolate just to lose a few pounds, or give up caffeine because it's really better for us anyway, then, we, too, have that shallow reward. I am reminded of a theme we have used at the church: DIVING DEEP. I suppose the deeper, more satisfying "rewards" and peace lie somewhat deeper than the shallow joys of a few pounds lost. Thank you for reminding me.