This Valentine's Day is Ash Wednesday, and you're not alone if you're recognizing the irony of both these holidays falling on a singular date. One, the quintessential Hallmark for lovers and romantic affections; the other, the culmination of self-denial and humble penance. How can we eat our hearts out in chocolate when we're supposed to be starting fasts of no sweets or no caffeine? (Love can meet discipline in the middle... Read more about that here.) But the problem with these dates coinciding is a small representative of our dilemma as modern Christians:
How do we remain the "salt and light," while living in an over-peppered, neon bright society?
The call of the Lent season is one of reflection on the Most High and His sacrifice for us in the coming weeks before Easter. The fasting of the time is to literally deny our flesh in order that we might focus on the righteousness afforded to us in Jesus, paid by the highest of costs, His precious blood. Your chocolate is probably seeming a little silly at this point, and that's okay. But I want to challenge us as Christians to look beyond those simple flesh representatives; candy, meat, coffee; to the heart of the fasting season. After all, Jesus told His disciples that some power comes only from prayer and fasting (Mark 9:29).
The greatest, most powerful fast isn't the one that shuts out the world around you, but the one that circumcises the heart within you. (Rom. 2:29)
Now, am I suggesting you not fast these things of the world? Am I suggesting that we should be of the world? No. On the contrary, I am suggesting that we as Christians find things to fast that bring to our hearts the very depth and fullness of the sacrifice paid by our Savior! For me personally, the "candy" fast just isn't representative of the cross He's calling me to take up. I have a sneaking suspicion He's called you to more, as well.... ;)
Let's not forget: its this walk, this deep calling, this gospel propelled in us, that world actually sees as our faith.
Instead of meat, try fasting fear. Instead of sweets, a fast of selfishness. Consider fasting pride, lust, social media fueled envy, or even derogatory remarks about loved ones. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you that one nagging thing, that particular thorn in your flesh, but don't stop there. Ask Him to help you lay that character defect at the foot of the cross each and every day during Lent, and beyond. When the world looks on at this process they will see true salt and true light, they will see and desire the light of Christ likeness worked out in your life.
Trading candy hearts for a contrite heart,
Ariana is mother to Lydia, Willow, and Gideon, as well as wife to real life super hero, Joseph. She enjoys anything creative from gardening to visual arts, and desires a life where simplicity is an ethic. Above all else, she loves Jesus.