What are you giving up for Lent?
Leading into Easter, this was the question that was asked every year.
Growing up, my list always included potato chips, chocolate and soda.
No small sacrifice for a teenager.
The temptation of junk food seemed to be everywhere.
A friend even hid chocolate under my pillow one year to tempt me.
With a sense of pride having put down these things for 40 days, I would celebrate Easter morning with a bag of Middleswarth BBQ, a sleeve of frozen Thin Mints and a Diet Coke.
The sacrifice had been worth it.
My understanding of this time leading up to Easter has expanded as I matured in both years and in my faith walk.
The temptation of junk food is still everywhere.
It is no longer just in the form of sugar or carbohydrates.
Many things will tempt us with the promise of filling us up.
Stacked schedules, unhealthy habits, social media.
And when we are hungry, physically, emotionally or spiritually, it is tempting to reach for what fills us quickly.
But just like a sugar rush, the feeling of satisfaction is short lived.
We need a steady diet of time in His word and in His presence.
The world is saturated with temptations that will distract us from spending time with our Heavenly Father.
Jesus understood temptation.
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil.
For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry.
During that time the devil came and said to him,
“If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.”
But Jesus told him,
“No! The Scriptures say,
‘People do not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say,
‘He will order his angels to protect you.
And they will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.”
Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.”
Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.”
“Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him.
“For the Scriptures say,
‘You must worship the Lord your God
and serve only Him.”
Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.“ Matthew 4: 1-11 NLT
Jesus was not focused on the temporary.
His eyes were fixed on the eternal.
The forty days He spent in the desert were nothing compared to the sacrifice He made on the cross.
But He knew that sacrifice would be worth it.
Nothing we will ever give up here on earth can compare to that.
But we can use the time during Lent to reflect on His sacrifice.
A sacrifice that was born from our Father’s great love for you and for me.
“God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.” 1 John 4:9 NLT
What will you put down to spend time in His presence today?
Whatever you give up, I promise it will be worth it.
And the celebration on Easter morning will be filled with more than potato chips and Girl Scout cookies.
It will be filled with the hope and promise of a life with Him in the heavenly realms.
What will you give up for Lent?