Lent, a time when many Christians prepare for Easter by observing a period of fasting, repentance, moderation and spiritual discipline, began this week with Ash Wednesday and culminates on Easter Sunday. During Lent, many of the faithful commit to fasting or giving up certain types of luxuries as a form of penitence. Some Christians try to follow the example of Jesus’ 40 days in the desert and Satan’s temptation, by giving up a vice and practicing self-discipline. Setting aside the time and resources that are put into those things to focus more intently on the Lord, deepen their relationship with Him, and show appreciation for the incredible sacrifice He made for us on the cross.
As I was thinking and praying about all this I began to sense instead of depriving myself of a luxury (Honey Cashew Crunch from Costco or Facebook), I want to give up something that really drags me into a place of darkness stealing my joy, faith, and intimate relationship with Jesus. Worry.
I come from a long line of worry-warts, beginning with my great grandmother all the way down the maternal line to me. We are “worse case scenario” people. Always thinking of the most dreadful things that can happen in a situation instead of the good, and allowing ourselves to fall into the grip of anxiety and fear as if it is a certain reality. My personality type, peaceful Phlegmatic and perfectionistic Melancholic, especially lend themselves to this weakness. It has stolen years of my life often culminating in illnesses and deep depression. It draws me away from trusting the Lord and walking in freedom in all He purposed and designed for me to be, and the Kingdom work He has called me to. I know the enemy uses it as his primary weapon to try to paralyze me and keep me chained to discouragement and hopelessness, as well as attempting to crush my faith.
It’s a battle to fight this sin. And yes, I believe it is a sin to worry because I am not trusting God, His love and care for me, His omnipotence, or His track record of faithfulness in my life. A sin Jesus died on the cross to defeat. When I am in the throes of this battle I keep running to these verses in the Bible, and remind myself of this TRUTH! A truth that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 6.
“So my counsel is: Don’t worry about things – food, drink, and clothes. for you already have life and a body – and they are far more important than what to eat and wear. Look at the birds! They don’t worry about what to eat – they don’t need to sow or reap or store up food – for your Heavenly Father feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than they are. Will all your worries add a single moment to your life? And why worry about your clothes? Look at the field lilies! They don’t worry about theirs. Yet King Solomon in all his glory was not clothed as beautifully as they. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won’t he more surely care for you, O men of little faith?”
“So don’t worry at all about having enough food and clothing. Why be like the heathen? For they take pride in all these things and are deeply concerned about them. But your heavenly Father already knows perfectly well that you need them, and he will give them to you if you give him first place in your life and live as he wants you to. So don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time.” Matthew 6:25-34 (TLB)
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 (TLB)
So I am praying and asking God to help me “give up” worry for Lent, and beyond. That when the beginning of anxiousness starts to bubble up, I surrender it to Him. I let it go and His peace permeates my spirit. I experience joy, a renewed confidence and hope, and assurance that all is well with my soul.
As you pray and contemplate what you may want to “give up” for Lent, consider those things that draw you away from an intimate, trusting relationship with God. Away from your true identity in Him. Rejoice in the fact that we are not on this faith journey alone, and as we give thanks for the incredible gift of God’s Son dying on the cross to save us from our well deserved punishment of sin, we are set free to be His loving hands and feet here on planet earth.
For His glory,