Today (Wednesday), we find ourselves at the start of Lent, considered by many to be the holiest season in the liturgical year.
I remember as a child — and still occasionally today — being asked, “What are you giving up for Lent?” Even though sacrificial living for 40 days is one way of demonstrating our gratitude for Jesus’ voluntarily sacrificing his life for us, over the years I’ve come to believe that the greatest sacrifice we can make during Lent or in any season is not giving up something, but rather giving in to God’s will and ultimate plan for our lives.
I use the word “plan” with both caution and discretion. Through the prophet Jeremiah, God said to his people, “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
Even though I don’t subscribe to the idea that God plans out our lives in detail, I do believe that his ultimate plan is for each of us the same as it was for his covenant people — “hope and a future.” But in order for God’s plan to come to pass, it’s necessary for us to daily give in to that plan. And there is no better season in which to do this than Lent.
Just as Jesus would pray while in Gethsemane, “Your will be done.” What better way is there to celebrate Lent than to intentionally give in to God’s plan to give us hope for this life and a future that includes the eternal life made possible through Jesus’ death and resurrection?
So, what are you giving up for Lent? Whatever our answers may be, hopefully, they will include relinquishing those things that prevent us from giving in to God’s will and thus receiving the blessings — both temporal and eternal — Jesus came to give.
Steve McVay is pastor at Saratoga United Methodist Church in Eddyville. His opinions are those of his own and do not necessarily reflect this of this newspaper.