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February 28, 2012

Something Needs to Die

“You are my Son, whom I dearly love; in you I find happiness.” At once the Spirit forced Jesus out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among the wild animals, and the angels took care of him” Mark 1: 11b-13 (Common English Bible).

I’ve had the same routine for about 5-6 years now. For Lent I’m fasting from my routine. It has only been one week and I’m going nuts. I feel so unproductive, but through this whole thing I feel this sense that something in me needs to die. I need this challenge.

I find some sense of irony in the verses scribed above. As a father myself, my first instinct wouldn’t be to send my son off into the wilderness for temptation. (We could delve into how important the Father’s love is to the Son and even how great the Father’s love is by letting his Son go), I’m just saying, it wouldn’t be my first instinct. Would it be yours?

What did Jesus do in the desert? This desert experience seems to be vital for Jesus before he starts his ministry. Through the experience we come to learn that Jesus did for Israel what Israel could not do for itself - remain faithful, persevere.  But what did Jesus do? Was he ever bored? Did he feel unproductive? What did he learn through his experience? Did he have to fight the “madness” of doing nothing?

In the season of Lent, we often take up the practice of fasting to relate and somehow share in the desert/wilderness experience of Jesus. We give up a comfort or take on some discipline as a way to express our love to God. Our fasting expresses an outward display of our inward feelings. God wants to see our love.

This is a picture by my 3-year-old daughter. It’s posted on my office door. I see it when I walk in each day. She made it for me because she loves me. I love this picture ... probably more than anyone else in the entire world. 

Fasting is showing God that we love him more than (fill in the blank). In my fasting, I feel like I’m totally out of my element. My routine is totally thrown off. I’m getting irritable and restless, but I must push through. I must push through the "madness.” I’m not really trying to gain anything, I just feel like I need to do this. I want to do this. I want to show God that I love him. I want to do something to show God that I love him just like my daughter did something for me to show me she loved me. It’s only 40 days right? How hard can that be? My comforts need to take a back seat right now and die away.

Maybe one of you reading this is fasting for Lent, too. If so, what are you doing? How’s it going? Do you have hard times? How do you overcome and push through those temptations? What are you learning?

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