This is the time of year that invites us to go into the desert with Jesus for 40 days, to spend time reflecting and praying as we unite with Him in the discipline of resisting temptation and sin. This year the Lenten season wherein we are called to prepare ourselves to celebrate Jesus’ victory over sin and death at Eastertime begins on Wednesday, March 5.
This season and its days of fasting and abstinence are times of spiritual strengthening that God lovingly provides for us each year. Many times we tend to take the disciplines of fasting during this season for granted, when in fact the discipline of fasting is not just depriving ourselves of something, of giving up something that we like. It is not enough for us to fast from worthless, evil and distracting things and thoughts that lead us astray from God.
We need to take positive steps to set our lives in order. And we do this through the sacrifice and discipline of doing the right things, of strengthening ourselves spiritually, mentally, emotionally and even physically so as to withstand the temptations of the devil and his minions in the world. The acts of putting our lives in order can be likened to feasting – to feasting on the positive things in life.
The discipline of true fasting should end in feasting. Think of it as the togetherness of love and discipline. I love God therefore I must discipline myself so that I grow closer to Him. And the more disciplined spiritually, the more intimate I am with God, my life becomes a feast of blessings. I have always found this a fascinating aspect of Lent. So I would like to share with you a list I copied from somewhere many years ago about how we can turn the sacrifice of fasting from the negative into a celebration of feasting on the positive.
Fast from judging others; feast on Christ dwelling in them.
Fast from emphasis on differences; feast on the unity of all life.
Fast from apparent darkness; feast on the reality of all light.
Fast from thoughts of illness; feast on the healing power of God.
Fast from words that pollute; feast on phrases that purify.
Fast from discontent; feast on gratitude.
Fast from anger; feast on patience.
Fast from pessimism; feast on optimism.
Fast from worry; feast on God’s providence.
Fast from complaining; feast on appreciation.
Fast from negatives; feast on affirmatives.
Fast from unrelenting pressures; feast on unceasing prayer.
Fast from hostility; feast on nonresistance.
Fast from bitterness; feast on forgiveness.
Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.
Fast from personal anxiety; feast on eternal truth.
Fast from discouragement; feast on hope.
Fast from facts that depress; feast on verities that uplift.
Fast from lethargy; feast on enthusiasm.
Fast from suspicion; feast on truth.
Fast from thoughts that weaken; feast on promises that inspire.
Fast from shadows of sorrow; feast on the sunlight of serenity.
Fast from idle gossip; feast on purposeful silence.
Fast from problems that overwhelm; feast on prayer that sustains.
This Lenten season I wish you all a spirit-filled 40 days of love and discipline, of fasting and feasting, of a growing intimacy with God as you journey with Jesus from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday.