Wednesday saw the start of Lent.
Has it got any of you committing to giving something up for forty days?
I know some that fast from chocolate or crisps, others from social media or electrical devices.
With all this talk about quitting for Lent, it got me thinking a lot about when we fast or try to give up something, whether it’s for a period of time or permanently. We need to be wise about the choices we make around said forbidden fruit.
For example, if we are giving up chocolate we are not gonna go camp out in Tesco biscuit aisle, or if we are stopping smoking we are going to stop going to the smoking area at break time. If it’s alcohol, we are gonna avoid the pub, gambling we are gonna avoid the bookies, and the list goes on and on.
I remember when I first made a faith decision. I was so surprised that some of my bad habits didn’t instantly disappear, like there was loads of old Terri stuffed into a new heart. It took me a LOT, and I mean a lot, of dancing the two camp tango to get my head and heart in line with Jesus and, because I hadn’t wrapped my head fully around the grace of God, I would often live under a heavy cloak of shame and regret about my Bad choices and mistakes. That would create a distance between God and me and give the enemy space to creep in and convince me of his lies. I also didn’t have the wisdom to guard myself against temptation or wrongdoing. I was silly enough to believe I could still live my life the way I always had and expect a different outcome.
Well, a few years down the line now, I feel that, through an adequate amount of playing with fire and getting burnt, I’ve come to realise, Hey Einstein, that doesn’t work! And guess what, you don’t have to be a Nobel prize winner to figure it out.
“But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
Galatians 5:22-23 MSG
You can’t do what you have always done and expect a different outcome, especially when it comes to changing lengthy, well-established habits. I found this most difficult when it was stuff that I loved but stuff that was damaging. For example, every time I went out with the girls on a Saturday night, I would overindulge, behave like a bit of a fool, be loud and potty-mouthed; not to mention the killer hangover and stinky breath that had me avoiding church, and then the shame and horror would kick in when I was the greeter to, a first-timer walking into church, who”d recognised me from a few weeks before in the pub, getting on like an idiot. I really felt I could live my old and new life simultaneously, but I couldn’t. We can’t cling on to the old and still expect to live in the new.
In our walk with Jesus, we are going to have to make some choices in order to change. Yes, while God does most definitely work on our heart and the desires of our heart will change a great deal, there will be hard decisions and a need for more wisdom.
“And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God,”
Titus 2:12 NLT
Today, can I encourage you to take some time to think about the choices and lifestyle you lead? Does it align with the heart of Jesus? Do you find yourself repeatedly getting into situations you are not proud of? Is there an area of your life you are desperate to leave behind, but struggle to say no? are you playing with fire and expecting not to get burnt?
Can I encourage you to invite the Lord in
Ask him if something needs to change.
What do you need to start saying no to?
Who should you stop hanging out with? Alone maybe?
What do you need to delete from your phone?
My friend has this really cool phase, it’s I can’t be the queen of No… Can I suggest, should you ever feel you’re in a position where you are having to be the queen of no, like the only one saying no to bad decisions or temptation. You need to not be in that situation anymore. There are only so many times you can say no before you get tired and say yes, just because it’s easier.
Be wise about what you do, where you do it, and with whom you do it!!
“A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.”
Proverbs 25:28 NLT
Happy Lent y’all.
Prayers for love and wisdom.