When people count the 40 days of Lent (such as me and this blog series of 40 Days of Giving Up), it doesn’t include the Sundays. The thought process behind this is that even though Lent is a somewhat solemn time to focus on the sacrifice of Jesus in his death, each Sunday of the year, including those in Lent, is to be like a mini-Easter celebration. So, on the Sundays during this Lent season, I’ll take a break from “giving up”.
Today, I want you to think about the number 6. Keep thinking about the number 6. When you go throughout today think about the number 6, over and over and over. When you brush your teeth…. when you get the car… when you’re in church (I guess you can take a break to listen to Pastor’s sermon)… when you’re eating lunch… when you’re watching TV… constantly think about the number 6.
Now let’s say you did that for a whole week… constantly thinking about the number 6. Then, all of the sudden, next Sunday, I told you to just STOP thinking about the number 6. It would be practically impossible. After focusing on it so much for a whole week, you couldn’t NOT think about it if you tried. And when you would try you would then fail, because in trying to not think about 6, you actually think about 6, and then get frustrated that you can’t stop thinking about 6. Which, again, would be thinking about 6.
This is how it can be when we’re trying to give up these hard things that are so ingrained in us… things like worry and pride and busyness. If we couldn’t even “stop thinking about 6”, how could we ever just “give up worry”.
BUT, what if instead of just telling you to stop thinking about 6, next week I told you to START thinking about the number 9 instead? When you brush your teeth…9 When you get the car…9. When you’re in church… 9. When you’re eating lunch…9. Constantly think about the number 9. At first you might slip up at times and think about 6 instead of 9, but then you could refocus on 9 and before you knew it, 6 would be less and less in your mind as 9 overtook it.
So many of these things I’m choosing to give up this Lent are based in lies. Lies about myself, lies about God, lies about the world and the people around me. If I simply try to stop believing those lies, I will never actually succeed. BUT if I shift my focus on truth, slowly those lies will fade and loose their power. Sure I’ll slip up, but more and more I’ll be able to catch myself and refocus my attention.
When I find myself worried, I can remind myself that my God provides everything I need. When I over-commit to things and am way to busy, I can remember the truths God shares about the value of rest, and make adjustments to my schedule. When I get caught up in pride and selfish-ambition, I can focus on the truth that God alone is powerful and worthy and ask Him to give me a spirit of humility and service.
Yes, I give up all these things, but only when I choose truth instead, will I find any success.
Jesus, help us give up these things by imprinting Your truth on our hearts. In Your Name we pray, Amen!