Fasting from Chocolate!
Lent season reminds me of when I was a child being raised in both Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox Christianity.
My mom would take me and my sisters to church to receive our ashes on Ash Wednesday and that meant we had better have decided what we were going to give up for forty days in celebration of Lent.
One year, I chose to give up chocolate of any kind (I loved milk chocolate!). This decision was not easy, but my mom was convinced that fasting from something we loved was a way of making a sacrifice. She explained that if God could sacrifice His only son for the forgiveness of our sins, then surely I could give up chocolate for forty days. So, for those forty days, chocolate was forbidden to pass my lips. Easter Sunday took forever to arrive so I could receive my reward, a very big solid chocolate bunny! When I got my hands on that bunny, I enjoyed every single bite. It was delicious!
As I grew up, I realized the greater meaning and value of sacrifice and Lent. It was not just about giving up food but rather letting go of what did not promote my spiritual progress and stunted my mind from elevating.
Those spiritual hindrances ranged from a variety of things such as victimization, anger, resentment, and unrighteous judgment on my fellow man.
I knew that somewhere along my way, I allowed the influence of erroneous beliefs and ideals to creep into my mind and usurp the natural thoughts of God. I never considered not only how He saw me, but also how He thinks, overall, about His creation.
I ended up on a confused and confounded path that led me away from what once mattered to me the most: love, compassion, charity, forgiveness and such like. However, when I decided to turn my life completely over to the care of God and God alone, I had a strong desire and a need to let go of inferior and imperfect thoughts.
As I prayed that the Holy Spirit divest me of anything unlike the character of God, I wished it had just been chocolate that I was once again faced with giving up. Relinquishing unpleasant traits was no easy task. I found myself returning to the same old habits that I needed to forgo. I knew that I could not achieve such a prize without God’s intervention. I needed to cling to God even more for endurance, patience, and comfort. And God showed up! He fully armed and equipped me with everything I needed to forge ahead through Christ and destroy those unloving attributes.
Some of those unlovely thoughts fell away more easily than others. For the ones that try to claim my identity, I still fight the battle within to give up whatever is not of God.
In the book of Ephesians 4:22-24, the apostle Paul wrote, “To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (ESV).
This kind of Lent, the Lent I trust my mom was truly teaching us, lasts much longer than forty days. It is lifelong work and in the end has a greater reward waiting for us than a chocolate Easter bunny!
The reward is salvation won!
ESV-English Standard Version