Since I did not break from ‘fasting’ on Sundays, my 40 Days of Lent ended on Palm Sunday.  Yesterday I was able to eat sugar again.  As anxious as I’ve been to eat foods I’ve missed, yesterday wasn’t about the food as much as it was reflecting on what has changed in the past 40 days.    (For information about Lent, see my previous post titled, “Season of Lent.”)

Lent is 40 days.  Forty is a number associated with transition and change in the Bible.  I begin Lent in prayer, offering my efforts to the Lord and offering myself to be open to whatever transition or change needs to occur in the 40 days of Lent.  So what is my take away this year?

1) I lost weight.  Giving up foods with sugar cut out extra calories from my diet, and  also reduced my fat intake since many sweet foods are also high in fat.

2) Ridding my taste buds of sugary sweet things allowed the natural flavors of other foods to come through making them more enjoyable.

3) I made healthier food choices and now have improved eating habits.

Those are the physical changes.  God worked in my faith life, too.  Two verses started coming to mind:

Galatians 5:22-23   The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, pece, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. 

Luke 9:23   Then he (Jesus) said to them all: “If anyone would come after me (wants to be my follower), he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.   For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.  What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?  (NIV)       

The words underlined above are the words that jumped out at me from those verses.  As I strived every day to resist and avoid sugary foods, I kept hearing the words ‘deny yourself’, and take up your cross ‘daily’.  I was reminded that I had to push aside my self’s desires, seek self-control, and do so every day.  Did my self-control come from within?  No, it was something I sought from God.  The Bible clearly states that self-control is of the Spirit.  Can I exercise my own level of self-control?  Yes, but it’s limited, not at all the measure possible through God.

Soon it wasn’t just about my food choices.  I started exercising self-denial and striving for self-control in other areas of my life, too.  Less tv led to increased productivity.  Less wasted time yielded more time for more important things.  As a reward, I afforded myself time for things I often want to do, but don’t have time for.

How do these changes make me feel?  Better!  It’s great feeling physically healthier, and it’s even better to be more disciplined with my time.  Actually, it’s not my time, but God’s – and my time is limited here earth, so I need to be a good steward of every moment I have.

Also, please note that you don’t have to observe Lent to make a 40-day offering to God.   If you feel a desire to make an offering to God by changing your behavior and want to see what changes God might make in your life, you can do so at any time! Nothing would please God more than for you to come before Him seeking to make a 40-day journey together.

If you’d like encouragement for this, or have reflections of your own to share, I’d love to hear from you.  You can reply to this post, or contact me by email or Facebook:  Renee Myers.

God bless you and happy Holy Week!