Lenten Fail

After 46 days of going without meat, Debra asked, “So what did you learn from Lent this year.”  As I thought about it I already knew my answer, if i was going to be honest with myself.

The intent was to go without meat for Lent, in the hopes it would draw me closer to God.  Well, the meat part failed to deliver.

I am amazed (when I shouldn’t be) at how quickly I can replace the things I give up.  You see I gave up meat thinking it would change me, change my lifestyle and change my routine. It did, but I wanted this change to focus me toward Christ and his sacrifice. But it didn’t. I just rolled on eating other things to survive.

It was easy to move around the discomfit of rearranging my eating habits. Easy to explain to other people, whether they understand it not. Even easy to eat out. Not as much fun, but easy enough. The “why” of giving up meat for Lent was always in the front of my mind. I never forgot the reason for going vegetarian. And after a while food just become utilitarian. But I don’t feel any closer to God.

What did draw me to Christ was something I took up, the Lenten prayer TNL was using throughout the season.  I prayed it as part of the larger community, with my family, with the pastors, with the elders, in our home group and when I was alone.  Not everyday mind you, but a lot. It saturated my life.

Here is the prayer and the parts the that spoke to me over the past Lenten season:

You hate nothing that You have made, and You forgive the sins
of all who are truly penitent: Create in us new hearts that we,
worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wickedness,
may obtain of You, God of all mercy, perfect pardon and forgiveness.

You alone bring order to the unruly wills and affections of sinners:
May we love what You command, and desire what You promise,
so that, among the swift and varied changes of this world,
our hearts may be fixed where true joy is to be found.

Direct us in all our doings with Your most gracious favor,
and further us with Your continual help:
Grant that in all our works, begun, continued, and ended in You,
we may glorify Your Name and, by Your mercy, obtain everlasting life…

Drive far from us all wrong desires,
Incline our hearts to keep Your ways:
Grant that having cheerfully done Your will this day,
we may, when night comes, rejoice and give You thanks;
through the One Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

You made this day for the works of the light,
and this night for the refreshment of our minds and bodies:
keep us now in Christ; grant us a peaceful evening,
and a night free from sin, and bring us at last to eternal life;
through the One Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

P.S. Here are Debra’s thoughts.


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