Tell me I can’t eat meat or have to fast until dinner, and instantaneously, I am starving.
Seriously. What’s wrong with me?
Physical hunger aside, I have been trying to go deeper in all the things this Lent … fasting, prayer and giving alms. I read on social media that this Lent, a great way to give is to fill 40 bags in 40 days. The idea being, as it read … “fill 40 bags with things you no longer need or use” and give it away.
I am on board with this. But I keep hearing those four words:
You no longer need.
If I give up things I no longer use or need, well then, all I am doing is de-cluttering my home. This benefits me, at zero cost.
Might as well give up playing baseball, chewing tobacco, or making a really good dinner, being that I do none of these things ever.
See what I am saying?
Donating what we no longer find useful so that it can be enjoyed by someone else is a great thing to do. All year round. But Lent? Lent is different.
If I give what I will not miss, then I am missing the point.
If I fill with what is empty, how does that fill me with what is full?
The goal is Jesus.
To fill up with Him.
He is the fullness we all desire; the empty spaces that scream out in hunger are hungering for Him.
We need to feel the emptiness.
Saint Teresa of Calcutta said, “A sacrifice to be real must cost, must hurt, and must empty ourselves.”
Remember the story of the widow’s offering?
Jesus watched as all of the rich put their gifts into the temple treasury.
Then, the poor widow came forward.
And all that she gave up were two small coins.
“Truly, I tell you,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” (Luke 21:1-4)
Out of her poverty.
Think about it.
Could you fill and give away 40 bags if they contained all that you had to live on?
Could you fill just one of those bags with your favorite jacket, your most expensive shoes, the good china you use for every holiday?
How about you fill the bags with your child’s college tuition, your mortgage, your car?
Because I want this Lent to be different, I am asking myself,
What can I give up that will cost?
What can I let go of that will hurt?
What can I lose that will empty me of everything?
I pray that we can have faith like the poor widow; that in a crowd of the wealthy, we have the fortitude to come forward, to reach deep into our pockets, and to give up our last two coins. Without fear of having nothing, without worry over how we will survive, but in total confidence, to give without counting the cost, because we know that no one who has ever approached Jesus in real sacrifice and total faith has ever walked away empty. Ever.
And I pray I wake up and actually believe this for myself.
Because at the moment, it terrifies me.
Copyright 2019 Laura Mary Phelps