What will you deny yourself this Lent - what will you fast from? “I will not gossip at work” does not suffice, because it is a Christian obligation. Lenten fasting is not so much an obligation than the voluntary laying down of your rights. No Christian is allowed to gossip. No Christian is allowed to be slothful. No Christian is allowed to lust. These are not rules a man gives himself, but commands of God, which are not up for debate. So ask yourself, what do you really enjoy; where do your personal freedoms find widest expression? Write it down. Now place that piece of paper at Christ’s feet; give that up for Lent. (I would suggest placing that piece of paper at the foot of your crucifix in your home.) In this way you will be reminded for what reason you voluntarily laid down that right, and how, keeping one’s eyes fixed on Jesus during the forty days, you will develop a strength of character hitherto thought unreachable. The fantastic thing about voluntarily denying ourselves the admittedly good things we are gifted with is that the ache we experience in missing them reminds us of the ache we should have for God in our life. He is the ultimate gift-giver and all good things flow from His beneficence; all things should lead us to Him; our deepest longings and desires should find their terminus in Him alone.
This Lent, do more than merely refrain from misdeeds; voluntarily lay down your rights - deny yourself. Fast from what you most enjoy, or from what way you most express your personal freedom. For love’s sake we can do it and develop strength of character. It is the way of Jesus after all, Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me (Matthew 16:24). To deny oneself is to disown oneself as the center of one’s existence, yet such a fast will make this Lent the best one yet, where with God’s help we can become the best version of ourself.
In denial with you,
- David Conrad