Lent: why I failed miserably, and yet it seems I’m going to be ok.

I was so pumped up for the Lent fast this year. It sounded like such an awesome adventure for us. Turns out it was more a great idea I’d had for others to do, and for me to write about. What a dismal failure when I reached the end of Lent and discovered I had hardly connected with God at all on what to give away. Probably my greatest offering during Lent was my daily posting to Facebook, which we all know a single celled organism could do quite effectively. (In fact, many days it seems there are plenty of amoebas posting to Facebook.)

All in all I’m left wondering what my Lenten journey actually was. True, I did have great moments of conscience in which I set aside a few things of mine to be gifted to others less fortunate than me. True, my prayer life did change to reflect some of the self-denial so central to both Lent and fasting. True, many conversations with Inez were about those less privileged than our family. However, all of that just didn’t seem to merge into a discernable whole. So I have been on a hunt for what Lent has in fact gifted me with in return for my waywardness.

It took some digging, as first I had to skillfully evade my ego. ( I love a sentence that refutes itself, don’t you 🙂 ) I found the answer, sitting in plain sight, waiting for my attention.

I’m a sinner.

There in a beautiful nutshell, my Lenten fast gift to myself. There are times when try as I might, or try as I might not, things just don’t work out as planned.

Allow me now to change tone a little. I could easily be accused of having been quite flippant up until now, and the accusation would be partly deserved. So, on a more serious note these were the two revelations that reached me as I meditated on this Lenten journey and what had happened within me as I avoided the actual fast I had set out on.

Firstly, one of the things I have been aware of in myself for many years, and I still come face to face with, is a desire for others to gain an increase in spiritual health instead of myself. It is not an easy confession, but it is true, and so is not worth hiding from. Often my response to a fascinating excerpt of Biblical text, or quote from a good book, is to first want to share it with others for their edification, rather than for my own. This is partly because I am a teacher and developer of people at heart, but I know it’s dark side too.

The problem, quite simply, is that of pride. Whenever my overwhelming desire is to see change in others rather than myself, then I am at risk of believing in my own perfection. That is a seductive lie that I must fight with all of my strength.

Secondly, and this revelation was more of a surprise than the first. I am still far more materialistic than I thought. Our family has undergone a great stripping away over the course of our move into ministry. We have said goodbye to vehicles, property, and even meat! Some of the goodbyes have been easier than others (meat having been one of my hardest), however, I had grown to believe that I had been freed from materialism. Apparently not as far out of the woods as I initially thought.

Both of these revelations have been both fruitful and difficult. Fruitful in that I trust God, in His love, to reveal to me those things that still hinder my relationship with Him, and so also hinder my growth towards the likeness of Jesus. Difficult in that it is never easy to be faced with one’s failings. Such is the nature of life, though, that fruitful and difficult are never too far apart.

 

So, in conclusion, although the fast itself was not as much a success as I had hoped, God’s grace has salvaged something of real worth for me to continue to pray and meditate on. I am exceedingly grateful to the One who does not give up on me, no matter how repetitively lacking in faith I show myself to be.

What did God reveal to you through your Lent time? Please share thoughts or responses with us, we would love to hear from you!

Peace,

Steve