Every year there is a forty day season called Lent leading up to Easter. Colloquially, it’s a period when you give up certain, usually unnecessary things that take up a lot of your time. From what I’ve seen in the past couple of years, Facebook has been the number one thing given up for those partaking in Lent. I never thought I would be one of those people because I thought it somewhat impersonal to go along with everyone else to “sacrifice” something incredibly superficial. I just didn’t think God would really be pleased with me avoiding Facebook.
This year, however, I decided to give it a try. But, to be honest, it’s not just Facebook I’m giving up. Actually, of all the unnecessary things I do that evaporate my days, Facebook is lower on the list. Watching movies or TV shows takes the cake by far, but they’re closely followed by my Twitter time. All of these things I’m giving up for forty days not just to prove to myself that I can do it, but to learn how to do more productive things when I’m bored.
As is usually the case with publicly-declared commitments, the first day was the easiest. Instead of watching another three episodes of “How I Met Your Mother” – episodes I’ve already seen, mind you – I researched healthy meals that I could start cooking. Once I was done with that, I read several chapters of C.S. Lewis’ The Problem of Pain. And moments before I trekked over to Safeway to pick up some salad ingredients, a friend sent me a text to see if I wanted to hang out.
Before I knew it, I had prepared lunch for myself for the next three or four days, cooked tacos with Tyler, and got twice as much reading done as I normally might. Oh, and I also did some laundry in between all that. It’s safe to say that my boredom activities yesterday were way more productive.
What I’m more focused on, though, is what am I going to do when there’s nothing to do? If I’ve prepared all the breakfasts, lunches, and dinners I could possibly prepare or wash all the dirty clothes I could ever wash or do all the other necessary chores, what then will I do? You see, I don’t think the purpose of Lent is really to sacrifice one or two things simply to improve our productivity. I think it’s to get rid of our “easily-distracted” tendencies and return our complete focus onto God.
Over the past month and a half or so, one common theme has been rattling around my mind. On the Cross Training winter retreat back in January Darrin Ratcliff shared three messages out of the same chapter of Revelation. Every message dealt with the overall importance of worship, but focused specifically on various things. But what I came away with from that weekend was how in every thing I do or even think I can worship God.
It’s important here as it was in Darrin’s first message that weekend to highlight what it really means to worship. How it’s used throughout Scripture, it could mean serving, sacrificing, or laying prostrate before God. Or all of these meanings at the same time. Worship isn’t simply singing songs with other believers while some musicians play; it’s a constant, internal and/or external reverence of God.
A picture that comes to mind when I think of worship in this way is Matthew 17: 1-8:
“And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.
And Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.’
When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, ‘Rise, and have no fear.’ And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.”
God’s presence in His nature is too much for us to handle. At the mere sound of His voice everything that we would be doing or saying in that moment would stop and we’d take cover. Now granted, Peter, James, and John were terrified of what they were hearing, but the picture given in this passage emphasizes what’s most important in our walks with God: reverence, submission, and acknowledgement of the Holy One.
As it ought to be every Lent season, this is my focus. And as I said before, it’s really easy starting out, but I believe that if I continue to focus on the purpose of fasting from certain things (removing all hindrances to commune with God), then Easter will come and go before I know it. And heck, I might even get to a point where I won’t miss Facebook, Twitter, TV, or movies. I might be more enthralled with Jesus.