The Struggle with Lent

As Lent comes to a close this weekend, I hope that you’re reminded of what the season really represents. It’s not just a time to give up a bad habit, only to revert back to it afterwards. It’s a time for reflection and awareness in the habits that pull us away from God, so that we might give them up for good.

I’ve been having some profound discussions with a coworker recently who decided to incorporate Lent as a way to stimulate a “spiritual experience” of sorts. Although, I admit, I was hesitant to think it would actually be effective, I still thought it was pretty amazing, given that most people just use Lent to temporarily give up a bad habit.

Yet, what makes Lent truly effective is when it brings us to a closer understanding of what Christ gave up on our behalf. He gave up a life in the Heavens to live a season in this awful place (the world) and partake in the human experience. And then to stand in place of the ultimate punishment that was meant for us in order to save this world from its sins for all time, on top of it? Wow. And here I struggle just to resist the temptation of a tasty cupcake.

My coworker brought up a great point in our discussion. There was a moment during her absence of refraining from dairy products (cheese in particular) that she ended up inadvertently eating it on a piece of food completely unaware of. Upon realizing this, she set the food down, admitted her mistake, then reaffirmed her commitment to staying true to her cause.

Props to that!

What I found so interesting about the moment, unbeknownst to her, was the beautiful parallel it had to the spiritual.

Think about it. How often do we sin and realize the severity of our mess up, only to give up and admit defeat shortly thereafter? Humans have a knack for expecting perfection in ourselves, even when a Savior loves us in our imperfect nature. We may even respond quickly by resorting back to a life apart from God, simply because we believe we’re not “good enough” to continue.

But we can rest assured that Christ lived the perfect life that we could not. He stands in for us where we are undeserving, and provides a second, third, hundredth chance at life, whereas we do not give ourselves much room to make just one goof up in our day to day lives.

What I also find inspiring about my coworker’s desire to stay true to her Lent commitment is what it represents where our hearts are when we sin. “If you love me, keep my commands,” Jesus instructed His disciples in John 14. It wasn’t if you keep His commands, you’ll love Him. Making someone do something is not a sign of love. Yet when you truly love someone, you’ll find it hard not to honor them through your actions.

Refraining from sin, or trying to live the perfect Christian life won’t earn you any favor in God’s eyes, because even on your best day you’re still loaded with sin. But recognizing the power of a true Savior, One that lived the perfect life with no sin, just so that we could be set free from that burden, is something we need to recognize.

Not just on Lent, but every day afterwards.