Friday, March 25, 2011

Why the Catholics have it Right (this time)...

Matthew 6:16-18
    16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Let me be honest.  This is my first year to participate in Lent.  For me, this season of the year has never been that big-a-deal.  I remember in high school viewing Lent as a thing that "the Catholics" did.  My friends would come into class with some sort of dirt smeared on their foreheads, and then I would know Lent had began.

I mean, I always looked at my Catholic friends and felt sorry for them for all the things they had to do and the particular ways they had to do them.  I was grateful to be a part of a faith with very little "rules and regulations", a faith based on the principles of love and relationship.  And to be honest, I'm still grateful.

But one thing I'm realizing is this: we "evangelicals" have it too easy.  WAY too easy.  We've overcompensated so much in fear of entering into tradition and rituals that we have forgotten that maintaining a relationship with God requires some labor.  We get lost in the privilege of grace and forget that we are called to work out our faith with "fear and trembling".   What I believe that God means by that is this: put a little work into it! 

We tend to put our faith in "cruise-control" mode and neglect the spiritual disciplines that are involved in really experiencing God to the fullest.  

I've been reminded of my tendency to "cruise" through my faith as I've been going through Richard Foster's Book called Celebration of Discipline.  He takes 12 disciplines that have been foundational in the pursuit of our relationship with God and unfolds each one.

Coincidentally, (though there really is no such thing as a coincidence), my chapter on the discipline of Fasting coincides with this season of Lent.  And boy, has it been good.

Through my reading, I've been reminded of my need to work out my faith. 

This fast has been beneficial in so many ways.  But one thing in particular is that it has taught me to clear unnecessary coping mechanisms from my life.  The things I tend to run to when I am stressed, overwhelmed, and bored...are no longer available.

I'm left with me, myself, and my raw emotions.  Nowhere to run.  Nowhere to hide.  Nothing to numb.  I used to say that "oh....I'm just grumpy because I'm hungry....tired....thirsty..." whatever.  But now that these certain things have been purged from my life I come face to face with the reality that I am angry, miserable, and discontent....because of the things I have inside of my heart.  

There are no more excuses.  

In fasting, we come face to face with who we are.  In fasting, the things that have been clogging up our time, attention, and emotion are no longer given the authority to numb us.  In fasting, all of the things we have been trying to hide finally make their way to the surface...

And our gracious God takes His nail-pierced hand, and skims them away.  

This season of Lent is teaching me a lot about myself.  It's allowing me to see myself in a way that I haven't had the ability to see before, when my vision was clouded.  I am sad, silly and ignorant.   But in turn, it's taught me so much about my God.  

He's always known I was this sad, silly, and ignorant...yet, He loves me still.  That is beautiful to me. 

Happy Lent.  

PS. To all my Catholic friends...all my love and respect.  Don't knock the title of this was just to get you reading ;) worked. 


  1. Debra - First time on your blog and I love it...See you at Blogplicity!

  2. Thanks Corinne!! So glad you enjoyed. See you soon.


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