All to Jesus I surrender;
all to him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust him,
in his presence daily live.
I surrender all,
I surrender all,
all to thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.
J.W. Van Deventer
What are you giving up for Lent?
You’ve probably already asked or been asked this question. Usually the answers include a list of unhealthy treats or wasteful practices. But often fasting can paradoxically lead us to focus on the very thing we are abstaining from. Rather than lifting our thoughts towards God and allowing us the time to better hear his voice, we find ourselves tuning in to the insistent call of the brownies in the office break room or the box of chocolates left over from Valentine’s Day.
So what good is it? Sure, you might be a couple of pounds lighter come Easter, but what good is it doing your relationship with Jesus and his people?
If our “giving up” ends there, probably our Lenten fasting is all for naught – the modern equivalent of wearing a hair shirt. But to give up doesn’t just mean to cross something off our list of acceptable items. It means to surrender. When we surrender to God, we allow him to guide our paths. We give up control of our lives and our days and acknowledge that it is his will, not ours, which must be done.
If we give up something as an act of surrender to God and allow that attitude of humility to infiltrate other areas of our lives, what could he accomplish through us?
Surrender isn’t easy. It is hard to give up something that we love (even when we might also hate it). It’s hard to give up our worries and our fears. It’s hard to give up control. It’s hard to give up the illusion that material wealth will bring us happiness. It’s hard to remember that in the midst of calamity and uncertainty, God is there.
If giving up something symbolic during Lent helps you to remember the very real struggle of surrendering to God, it is worthwhile. If giving up something during Lent serves as a reminder to check in with your Father, it is worthwhile.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6:33-34 (NIV)