Today it’s three weeks into Lent. Did you decide to give up something three weeks ago? How is that going? Have you been successful?
Let me tell you about my Lent experience thus far. It’s not been going well at all. The first two weeks were not bad, but then the third week hit… There were so many temptations left and right and… yup, I confess, I couldn’t resist. The food category got to me once again, what else is new, hey? And the interesting thing was that it wasn’t even in an area that meant a whole lot to me. My struggle is with desserts, baked goods. But fast food? Really? Where did that come from? I have been able to say no to fast food before. Why not now?
At night I would beat myself up and vow the next day would be different. I would confess my weakness to God and pray for strength to get back into my Lent routine. Morning would come, the resolve would still be there. But then busyness of the day would take over and my resolve, well, it dissolved. This went on for a whole week, day after day. And if I’m really honest here, it got worse with each day!
Until I broke the cycle yesterday with a day of prayer and fasting. I should have done it much sooner, right? Why wait a whole week to break this cycle? Why wait until it got worse, and worse…
Here are a few things I learned from my past week. Maybe you can relate.
- I’ve got to swallow my pride! Pride was at the core of my resistance to confession and prayer. These were my thoughts: “I’ve done Lent before, and I was successful. I can do this again. Why not? What’s one day of giving in, can’t harm much. There’s always tomorrow. Tomorrow will be different. I can do this!!!” But I couldn’t. I had to realize there were desires within me that were dragging me down and away from God. Plus, they were adding pounds where I tried to lose.
- Avoid the first step of giving in. Temptation is a domino effect. When you give in once, it gets easier and easier to give in to temptation whenever it comes around again. And before you realize it you’re on a rollercoaster going at full speed into a direction you never intended to go.
- It’s not too late to get back on track. Yes, it’s humiliating to admit defeat. But there are still a few weeks to go through Lent. I still get a chance. I know I can’t do it on my own. I have determined to go to the One who is waiting with strength and encouragement to help me through each day. The song “Lord, I need You” says it so much better. Have a listen!
As I was writing this post, I had to think about a sermon “The DNA of Sin” our pastor preached on temptation and desires. He talked about the passage of Scripture in James 1:14-15:
“Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.”
There’s a chain reaction. It all starts small, in the dark, in the secret, in my mind. And it grows, and grows, and grows until I can’t hide it anymore and I’m giving “birth to death.”
But there’s hope! The apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:13: “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure.” (emphasis mine)
Isn’t that exciting? Isn’t that encouraging? I get a new chance at Lent. And when (not if) I’m tempted again, I only have to look to the Lord. He will show me a way out. Don’t you want to shout a “Praise the Lord” with me? There is hope! His arms are stretched out wide. He is inviting me to follow Him during this Lent season.
Where are you on this journey of Lent?