This past Wednesday marked Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. So what does this mean for a lot of people? Besides walking around with ashes on your head for a day, it's a roughly 40 day period until Easter Sunday where people give up one vice or habit.
Why give something up? What does that prove?
The main idea, from the way I understand it, is an attempt to put more focus on God. When you start to desire that one given up habit (whether it be smoking, chocolate etc) it is supposed to remind you to focus on God instead. You spend that craving time in prayer to help you get through that and ultimately become closer to Him. I think it's a great thought. What a better way to spend forty days practicing a form of fasting to re-direct your focus.
However, I have an alternative. What if you didn't give anything up. If there is something that you do that gets in the way of your relationship with God, maybe worrying about NOT doing that thing is counter productive. Just hear me out on this.
What if instead of NOT doing something, you actually DID something for forty days. Say instead of giving up some vice, spend more time actually doing something to build that relationship. For example, instead of giving up smoking, try spending 15 minutes in devotion every day. There are other examples but I think I know you know where I'm going.
I'm not discrediting the practice of fasting at all. After all, Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness fasting and praying. Obviously, if Jesus did it, there's significance to it. However, if giving up caffeine (like many of us do) isn't bringing you closer to God, try the proactive approach. I gave up Ale-8s one year. Instead of spending my "craving time" meditating on God, I spent more mental energy counting down until when I would get the next sip of sweet Kentucky-made nectar. It's not a one-size-fits-all approach, but maybe for some, a proactive approach will do more good.
Maybe even spending more time doing something you should be doing anyway will wing you off of that one thing you want to give up.
What do you all think?