All I need is You

I had a dream last night where I was preaching at a church about Lent.  It was a really vivid dream which is why it caught my attention – my dreams aren’t usually that vivid.  The sanctuary I was in was one I’ve never seen before and it was weird.  On the level where I stood there weren’t really that many seats.  But there was a balcony that came out pretty far that was packed full with people.  After I finished preaching we went into a coffee hour and even that was clear.
I don’t know what this dream means – probably nothing, but Lent is coming up.  It’s been a while since I’ve addressed Lent here, so maybe that’s all the dream mean, let’s talk about Lent.
Some background on my faith journey and Lent – in my house growing up we were always encouraged to give something up for Lent.  I honestly have no idea why.  We didn’t go to church regularly, I didn’t know what Lent really was other than that it meant on Fridays I wasn’t allowed to eat meat.  Coincidentally the worst food poisoning I’ve ever experienced happened because of some bad fish I ate on a Friday because of Lent.
It was never explained to me what we were doing, I just knew my mom would “suggest” something for me to give up.  Usually it was chocolate or soda.  And then on Easter Sunday after we did our Easter Egg hunt I was allowed to consume all the chocolate or soda or whatever that I wanted.
As I grew up and started to walk with God on my own, I rebelled against Lent because of my childhood of not understanding it.  When one of our youth interns talked about giving things up for Lent I would always roll my eyes because in my mind giving something up for 40 days meant nothing.  So I gave up chocolate, I could still have a variety of other candy that was just as good.  In my teenage youth I saw friends give up things for 40 days as a hope to be “healthier” which in teenage talk 9 times out of 10 means skinnier.  Lent seemed so manipulative to me.  It still had no real meaning.
Until I moved to Kansas City to start an internship.  Within my first month there the senior pastor challenged the congregation to a season of fasting and praying for our church and its impact on the community.  He challenged us to pick a level of fasting that would be sacrificial to us and spend the 40 days in prayer and fasting – seeking direction.
The youth staff decided to do the Daniel Fast.  If you’ve never heard of it – look it up.  It’s intense.  Although maybe not if you have ever done Whole30 or Paleo or anything like that.  But to me, it was torture.  It was unbelievable hard, every bit of food or drink that went in my mouth had to be scrutinized.  It changed the way our staff interacted with each other.  The lack of coffee to this caffeine addicted lady was rough.
But throughout the time of Lent we were encouraged to remember why we were doing it, in solidarity with Jesus and his 40 days in the wilderness.  To remember that there are times when we need to press in, to sacrifice our comfort in order to hear from God.
That season of Lent was the hardest I’ve ever endured.  But it was also incredibly fruitful.  I dealt with a lot of things in those 40 days and heard from God in some really tangible ways.
Since then, I’ve viewed Lent differently.  I haven’t always done as significant of a Fast but I’ve always tried to challenge myself to take something up that challenge me in my faith.
All this to say, I’m not judging you if you are giving up chocolate for Lent.  Instead I’m challenging you to know why you are giving it up.  In what tangible way is giving it up going to pull you closer to God.  Lent is not about denying yourself for the sake of denying yourself.  Or to see how strong your will power is – it’s about pushing into your relationship with the Creator of the Universe and being able to hear his voice clearer, freer from the distractions of this world than you are in other seasons.
So – What are we doing for let this year?  Share here in the comments and lets encourage one another!

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