Controlling What Controls Us

“But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness . . .” Aldous Huxley~

Lent started last week for most Christians. Many pay little heed to the season. But it begins a season I mark every year now.

As a child, I didn’t work very hard at Lent. I’d decide to give up potato chips until there were some potato chips around. Then I’d switch to something else, like chocolate. And then, to something else. I was like Huck Finn deciding what not to steal today.

Then for many years, I didn’t mark Lent at all.

I don’t remember when I started again–maybe a decade ago. My discipline about food hadn’t advanced far from what it was when I was a child. I ate too many potato chips when they were there. And too much of anything made of sugar any chance I could get.

I wasn’t overweight–or not seriously so. I bounced around within 20 pounds or so since hitting 40. But Lent isn’t about weight control. It isn’t a diet plan. It’s a desire to work with God to get control of food. To keep food from controlling me. To honor Him in what and how I eat.

It was about discipline and sacrifice–albeit small sacrifice. The discipline isn’t just one of physical appetite. There is a spiritual element in all we do.

In sacrifice, we acknowledge that we aren’t in heaven yet. Here is a place where sometimes we partake and sometimes we abstain. It’s a place where we do better when we don’t have it all. But it’s hard because what we want is all around us. All we want. All the time.

Everywhere we look. So we need discipline and with it comes sacrifice–a denial of comfort for a higher cause.

The discipline, denial, and sacrifice remind us. Lent reminds us heaven is ahead of us. We are not there yet.

Lent reminds us that He carried a cross.

He sacrificed. He walked that way. He is the way–for us.

We remember that our essence was not made for this world.

We can only imagine heaven. We yearn for it. We even confuse this world with it sometimes. Discomfort and sacrifice remind us that only one dwelled there and then came here.

He did not have to imagine. He knew. Yet He came and sacrificed Himself for us.

Lent is a season of remembering.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

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18 Replies to “Controlling What Controls Us”

  1. Oh Nancy, this is beautiful. I have waxed and waned with my own marking of Lent. Sometimes passionately making sacrifices, sometimes (I’m not proud of this) laughing it off. I appreciate you taking the time to help me reflect more deeply about the practice of considering the cost of my Savior. A small sacrifice on my part, to help me consider Him more deeply, is more than worth it. May God bless you and bless your sacrifice. Maybe it’s not too late for me.

  2. Like spring itself, Lent is a time of renewal and rebirth as we prepare to celebrate our risen Lord. Thanks for your lovely description and words of encouragement.

  3. This is beautifully stated, “We aren’t in heaven yet. Here is a place where sometimes we partake and sometimes we abstain.” Yes, we do. As a protestant in a church that doesn’t maintain a liturgical calendar, I usually find myself attempting to keep Lent alone. I choose a method for focusing in on Jesus in a way that keeps me fixed on who he is and on his great sacrifice for us. I don’t give up any goodies, so my approach is unorthodox. God bless you, this Lenten season, as you move through the steps that are most significant to you.

    1. I often find myself alone in this season too, Melinda. I like your approach of focusing on Jesus. That’s what Lenten sacrifice is supposed to do. I grew up in a household of mixed traditions, so the blending comes naturally for me. Thanks and God bless!

  4. I like this thought that the purpose for Lent is one of remembering. Jesus modeled and led the way for discomfort and sacrifice. And we remember He came and took on the cross.

  5. So good, Nancy. I didn’t understand Lent until about ten years ago, but it’s now such an important time to me. You are right: it’s all about REMEMBERING Jesus’s sacrifice and what He wants us to do for God’s Kingdom.

  6. “We can only imagine heaven. We yearn for it. We even confuse this world with it sometimes.” This is so true. We can only imagine heaven and we yearn for heaven on earth. Lent is a season of remembering Christ’s life, sacrifice, death, and resurrection and the promise of eternal life and heaven.

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