By the time you read this post, which was written on Monday and posted today using blogger's cool "Schedule" option, I will have given up all social media (facebook, blogging, proteacher, etc..). Why? Lent.
No, I haven't suddenly converted to Catholicism. Still a Reformed, Southern-Baptist Evangelical girl.
So why celebrate lent? To prepare. Ultimately it is a time of preparation. Prepare for what? Easter. Resurrection Sunday.
Advent is the preparation for Christmas. It's easy to prepare for Christmas. Walk into any store around Halloween and you'll see Christmas. Everywhere. There are Christmas songs on the radio, Christmas movies on TV, Christmas cards in the mail, Christmas decorations, etc... but Resurrection Sunday? Other than the bunnies, baskets, and chocolate covered eggs - there's not a lot out there to remind you of the season at hand. People don't decorate their yards with crosses and tombs like they do with the nativity.
Resurrection Sunday is the pinnacle of the gospel. Why do we not prepare our hearts for it? That is where Lent enters. Fasting is not simply a catholic idea - it is biblical and sadly neglected in the Protestant world. Why fast? Check out what these people who are way smarter than me say about it:
A fast creates a margin for God to move. Temporarily changing our routine of comfort jars us off high center. A fast is not necessarily something we offer God, but it assists us in offering ourselves.
Jen Hatmaker in 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess
More than any other discipline, fasting reveals the things that controls us.
This is a wonderful benefit to the true disciple who longs to be transformed
into the image of Christ. We cover up what is inside us with food and other good
things, but in fasting these things surface. If pride controls us, it will be
revealed almost immediately. David writes, 'I humbled my soul with fasting' (Ps.
69:10). Anger, bitterness, jealousy, strife, fear — if they are within us, they
will surface during fasting ... Fasting helps us keep our balance in life. How easily we begin to allow
nonessentials to take precedence in our lives. How quickly we crave things we do
not need until we are enslaved by them ... Our human cravings and desires are
like rivers that tend to overflow their banks; fasting helps keep them in proper
channels. 'I pommel my body and subdue it,' says Paul (1 Cor. 9:27)."
Richard Foster in Celebration of Disciplines
Fasting expresses in a God-ordained way our belief that we have tasted and seen that the Lord is good (Ps. 34:8) — so good that there are times we’re satisfied to feast on Him instead of the food that the Lord made for us to live on. Fasting is a temporary physical demonstration that we believe the truth declared by the gospel, namely that, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). Do you believe that? Do you fast?
Donald Whitney in Spirirual Disciplines for the Christian Life
and of course, Jesus said
Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. Matthew 6:16-18
If you notice, Jesus doesn't say "If you fast" but "When you fast." The assumption is that this is something you will do. Now, I know some of you are thinking: "Jesus to do this privately and you're airing it on social meda. Way to follow Jesus, Melissa." Yes, you are right but I am doing this simply for accountability purposes. And because I take the Parable of the Empty House seriously, I'm not simply going to give up social media, but replace it with something else. Prayer. Seven Sacred Pauses to be exact. I'm shamelessly borrowing (read: stealing) this idea from Jen Hatmaker's book and while it seems a tad on the mystic side (I am so not a mystic) I think it will be good for my soul to intentionally set aside times to pray. That said, see you in 40 days.