Did I ever tell you about that time I gave up portobello mushrooms and goat cheese for Lent, and while out to lunch with my husband, he had the nerve to order the portobello mushroom and goat cheese sandwich?
There is so much to unpack in this one question that I hardly know where to begin. How about we start and finish with the fact that, at one point in time, my Lenten sacrifice was not eating portobello mushrooms and goat cheese. I mean, exactly how many portobello mushrooms and how much goat cheese was I consuming? Clearly, enough that to not eat it qualified as an appropriate sacrifice to the Lord, who gave up His very life in exchange for my sins. Safe to say, based on the level of suffering that must have caused, I experienced some radical spiritual growth that Lenten season. Didn’t Saint Teresa of Calcutta give up something similar? Or was that the 2000 vintage cote de boeuf and hunk of gouda?
Lord, have mercy on me.
The Lenten sacrifice. I struggle with it every year. Not so much the sacrifice itself but the motive behind it. Do I give up sugar, carbs, and eating between meals for love of Jesus, or for love of weighing less? Do I give up shopping at Target for love of Jesus, or because I will save us some money? Do I fill up bags of my possessions to donate for love of Jesus, or am I just cleaning out my junk drawer? Because if the motive is anything other than love of Jesus, then He will rise and the Alleluia will be proclaimed, but I will be no different. Perhaps I will be thinner with more cash in my pocket and a clean closet, but where it counts—nothing will have changed.
I told my husband we needed to start thinking about what we will give up for Lent now; that we must be intentional about how we journey. Of course, in “wife code language,” what I was actually saying was, “You need to get off of your phone, honey.” Something I should probably give up is telling my husband what he needs to give up. Is it just me or is it so much easier to see what’s in the way of other people’s relationship with Christ than it is our own?
So, what is in your way?
What are your disordered attachments?
What do you choose to tie yourself to?
What or who do you run to in place of Jesus?
What is your biggest obstacle to surrendering it all?
What is that thing you do repeatedly that breaks God’s heart?
These are the questions I have been asking: Lord, what do you see that I am allowing to get in your way? What are the distractions I reach for that have become so second nature, I don’t even recognize that they are distractions? What sins do I love so much I refuse to believe they are sins? Where do I live “for the show,” putting out all of my good but hiding my true self? Show me the attitude of my soul. Give me the grace to want to suffer for love of You.
As I have been praying with these questions, the Holy Spirit has been ever so gently nudging me...specifically at bedtime. You see, I get into bed with every intention to pray my nighttime prayers. Yet, it never fails that every time I go to set my phone down, I do one last Instagram check. Yup. You know where this is going, don’t you? That one last check turns into thirty minutes later, leaving me too tired to pray and knowing all sorts of unimportant things about people I don’t know that play zero role in getting myself to heaven. The easy sacrifice this Lent would be to give up Instagram, right? (I know, crazy talk.) Or maybe, at least, give it up before bedtime? There. Done. Easy, right?
Because I am a girl that requires a big plan. If I want real Easter morning transformation and resurrection, I need something meaningful to put in the space that I clear out. And I need to be held accountable.
Sisters, I have an idea…
This Lent I will replace the thirty minutes of bedtime scrolling with the Walking With Purpose short study, Living in the Father’s Love. And I can’t make the excuse that there is no way I can add a second Bible Study to my schedule due to lack of time. If you checked the daily screen time on my phone, you would see that not only do I have the time to add another study, but I have the time to write my own study, in three different languages! And get this, sisters: Because I love you all so much, I am inviting you to join me in this daily thirty minute Lenten challenge! (That’s the being held accountable part.)
Here is what we will do: The Bible study is six weeks long so we will begin on Ash Wednesday, February 26th, and end just in time for Jesus to rise from the dead!
What will you need?
For starters, you will want to identify your own time waster in your life—that thing you do or reach for that adds no value to your life but sucks up a whole lot of your precious time. Maybe it is scrolling through social media. Perhaps it is Netflix binging. Do you have a gift of mindless online shopping when you start to feel restless? Whatever your time waster is, identify it. But don’t just identify it, commit to replacing it with studying God’s Word.
Next, you will want to order the Living in the Father’s Love study guide right now! Two Connect Coffee Talk videos bookend this study. You can watch the videos for free on our website or purchase the videos on DVD or as a digital download.
Then be sure that you are following Walking With Purpose on Instagram. This is important because every week I will hop on Instagram stories, and we will go over the lesson together! We will discuss, interact and share, and come on now, how great will this be?
Sure, you can say there is no way you have the time for this and choose to give up Starbucks this Lent instead. And that is fine and all. But wouldn’t you rather use this Lenten season as an opportunity to pray with your WWP community and root yourself in a deeper understanding of just how crazy God is about you...while drinking your venti coconut milk latte?
Looking forward to not giving up coffee, and living in the Father’s love with you,
PS: Got a middle school age girl? Our Instastories content contributor Kristy Malik and her daughter Hana will be studying the BLAZE Bible study, Discovering My Purpose, this Lent on Instagram stories. They would love for you to join them! Interested in our Young Adult Bible studies? My daughter Annie will be hopping on Instastories as she works her way through Beloved, part I of the Opening Your Heart Young Adult Series. So many beautiful options and women to journey with this Lenten season! Check Instagram on Ash Wednesday (February 26) for more details.