Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lenten Season, the 40 days that lead up to the death and resurrection of Jesus. It’s a common custom to “give up” something for Lent. Christians have historically fasted and prayed as they prepare their hearts for the celebration of that which defines their faith–a God who has conquered death.
Ironically, I started my 40 days of fasting by preparing a month’s worth of food…literally. I’ve recently been on a freezer crockpot meal kick. Last month, I thought I was easing into the idea with meals that would last approximately 2 weeks. However, the meals were so large that they provided a month’s worth of food for our family of 6. The simplicity of tossing pre-packaged ingredients into the crockpot was so freeing. So yesterday, when the ziplock bags in the freezer drawer started to dwindle, without much thought I started packaging more meals.
Only today did the irony dawn on me. It’s been awhile since I have given up something I love as an act of fasting for Lent. I started to wonder this morning if I should pick up the practice again. Then I opened the freezer…
I am sure that being really hungry or intensely craving a Lindor Dark Chocolate Truffle could draw one closer to Jesus. It would exhibit great sacrifice for me to give up my morning cups of coffee. I just don’t think I am strong enough. And I really love my family. I’d hate for them to have to live with the decaffeinated, chocolate deprived version of me for 40 days. I don’t think that’s what Jesus wants for them. So here is my alternative plan:
This year, during Lent, I will add something to life, rather than take away. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for us on the cross, and nothing I can “give up” for 40 days will ever come close in comparison. It is due to His great outpouring on the cross, that I have been covered in so much. I am really excited about the possibilities of acknowledging over the next 39 days all that I have received because Jesus gave up everything. I find myself focusing on “beautiful exchange” language: through His loss of everything, I have gained all.
Therefore, I will “add on” for Lent and truly be thankful for all that He gave me in His giving up.
Day 1: Crockpot Freezer Meals.
Since I missed Ash Wednesday…and happened to make a month’s worth of food, I will cheat and say it was purposeful. (Shhh…Don’t tell.) I added nourishment for my family, which only points me to His amazing provision. He meets and satisfies all of my daily needs. How paradoxical, that as I start the season of fasting my freezer is supplied on day one with enough provision for the entirety of Lent!?
“He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.”
2 Corinthians 9:10-11
He not only supplies food for my physical needs, but He supplies the nourishment I need in my soul. He enriches all of life which causes me to be able to enrich the lives of others. He draws me close…even through bags of frozen beef stroganoff and mongolian beef.
Day 2: Volume.
I might as well play a little catch up. Today, I added volume…well, to be specific, loud obnoxious singing.
This morning, as with most of our mornings, our children were having a very difficult time waking up and getting ready for school. It’s quite frustrating, especially when we discuss the importance of getting up on time each and every evening before. It is precisely for this morning battle, that coffee is a daily neccesity.
Today, however, I greeted each of my children with a loud operatic wake-up call. It was fun. After covering their heads with their sheets and muffling their ears with stuffed animals, they eventually laughed. Helen even warbled back with her own aria: “Where– is my schoo—ooool SHIRT?”
As the day has gone on, Judah and I have performed our own recitatives for each other. His screaming (which has recently been driving me mad) has never been so adorably charming. It’s amazing how my heart has already softened to gratitude, even though the volume hasn’t lessened at all.
All of this singing reminds me of Zephaniah 3:17:
“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”
And so I add volume–loud rejoicing! I am thankful that God is in my midst, rejoicing over me. I am thankful that He taught me through silly overwhelming vibrato to embrace life (even toddler-screaming) in the moment and to be thankful. I am beyond grateful that He has the ability to almost instantly shift my heart and my mind from overwhelming frustration to overwhelming joy.
I am excited to see what He gives tomorrow. I’d love for you to join me in “adding on” this Lent. We truly have been given a great abundance.