Monday, February 20, 2012

season of lent

In my most memorable season of Lent, I gave up playing the universal computer game called Minesweeper. There was a time in high school when I played it ALL THE TIME. I was so into it that I'd play late into the night and then start my homework. That year I often went to school with only a few hours of sleep each night. Eventually I started thinking about that game everywhere I went. I saw it in my head, I thought about it every free moment I had. Lame, I know. It's not a very exciting game, but once I understood the strategy and mouse tricks to get faster, I just kept wanting to cut down my record time. I'm proud (and also slightly embarrassed) to say that I beat the expert level in Minesweeper in 88 seconds. Thankfully, choosing to give up Minesweeper for Lent broke my obsession with the game.

If you haven't realized it yet, this week marks the beginning of the season of Lent. I'm sure most people, if not all, know about this season that starts with Ash Wednesday and ends with Easter Sunday. And during that forty-day period, someone usually asks me if I have chosen to give up anything.

My mindset regarding this season was always that I was supposed to give up something that had or was becoming an idol for me. Either it took up too much of my focus, time, and energy, or I thought it hindered me in serving God faithfully and wholeheartedly.

But I haven't had much success regarding Lent in most years (although with that statement you wonder what it means to have a "successful" Lenten season). Then a couple years ago I started wondering if maybe I was seeing this whole thing with the wrong perspective.

Yes, living for Christ means that I must deny myself certain things that are displeasing to God. It also means cutting back on things that may not in themselves be sinful, but become more important than God in my life.

But I started realizing that thinking only in this way was taking away from the purpose of the season (in my opinion, anyway). The main purpose of the Christian life isn't to follow God grudgingly, as if it's a chore, making Him out to be someone who takes the fun out of life. But the first question-and-answer of the Westminster Shorter Catechism says:
Q. What is the chief end of man?
A. To glorify God and enjoy Him forever!
If you look at the question, it distinctly says "end," not "ends." I'm starting to realize that in striving to live for Christ, the biggest part of that is that I am supposed to enjoy God, not to force myself to be a good person as if that alone makes me a Christian (good or not). As the catechism shows, my enjoyment of God is directly tied into glorifying Him. If I not enjoying Him, I'm not really glorifying Him fully either.

So my "resolution" for the Lent season this year isn't something that I need to take away from my life (which of course is also a necessity), but to put more of God into it, that I may enjoy Him all the more. Not sure how to make it a practical action, but I'll be thinking and praying about it until Wednesday. Feel free to add in your suggestions.

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