Blog Spiritual Disciplines

Oh Yeah, “Why am I giving this up for Lent?”

Day 29 of Lent, Psalm 35:

I always prided myself as one who had very good eyes — eagle eyes I would think. When my doctor told me as a child I had 20/10 vision, I gave myself a little pat on the back (as if I had anything to do with it!).  However, something changed and my sight declined. Now, my teenagers make fun of me for my extremely large text on my phone and for relying on them to read any font less than 36 pt.  Several years back, I broke down and purchased my first pair of reading glasses (basically, like magnifying glasses that you wear). Soon, small print became large, and items, once overlooked, now were noticeable.  It magnified and made text larger– so nice.

Revisiting the question

As the days go by, I need to ask myself, “Why am I giving this item up for Lent or doing this certain extra thing?” It always helps to recall the “whys” behind things. There could be as many answers to this question as there are things to give up. However, as I think about this time before Easter, the word, “magnify,” seems to help answer this question for me. Let me explain.

Magnify: to make something greater or larger

In Psalm 35, David says, (concerning his enemies) that they “magnify” themselves. They have put themselves over David and rejoiced over his distress.

In contrast, David then says,

And let them say continually, “The Lord be magnified.”

The first group makes themselves great and over the Lord’s servant, David. They have magnified themselves. In contrast, David encourages the people to make the Lord great– to magnify Him.

How can I make myself “small,” and the Lord “large” in my life? Small does not mean I am insignificant or unimportant.  For I am made in His image, therefore I have great value.

The battle for the magnifier

Each day, I wage a battle with myself– “Who will be first?”  God is God, but I struggle still with my sin and idols– things I run to and place my trust in. “Will I give God first place and magnify Him, or allow myself to be placed as first?” Our nature is prone to keep our needs first and fight for them. Our flesh, bent towards self-centeredness and sin, grips and pulls. How easy it is to choose our sin and our idols, instead of the better good– to be like Christ.

All of Lent points to Easter- God redeeming us through Christ and giving us a new life. As one changed by the gospel, I can live out this new life in amazing ways– overflowing Him to others, being like Christ to the world and pointing to Him. My life now can reflect Him, who gave His life for me. On the other hand, I can continue in magnifying “self” and taking care of my needs first.  This keeps me from experiencing the fullest life possible.

Magnifying God during Lent

This time before Easter is a time of getting out the magnifying glass: seeing our sin more clearly, and confessing it. It is a time of noticing the little idols we run to. As we are rid ourselves of these things, over time we are becoming smaller. It is also a time to use our magnifiers to magnify God, instead. We see our need for Him, turn to Him, and make Him larger.

My Lent Story

I notice how much I care about other’s opinions and acceptance.  To be liked or be successful can feel like “true” acceptance. So then, how do I feel when I do not feel liked or successful? In these times, I can run to things for comfort, defend myself or criticize others, or I can learn to find my complete acceptance and significance in Christ. During Lent, I have been looking for ways to “put myself out there”– taking more risks to be me and to forget other’s opinions. This has come through speaking at a conference, confiding in a friend about my “silly” fears, or putting my thoughts out there on this site. These things are little opportunities God gives me to practice dying to myself.  These are opportunities to confess my sin of anxiety, fear and self-protection (pride).  It is a blessing when reminded to run to God when I feel insecure, instead of turning to other things, or avoiding situations for my protection. I want to die to self and have Christ live more through me.

Death to self

  • When I give up sweets, social media, or shopping I am denying myself of the things I easily turn to for comfort– which often become my easy “go-tos.”
  • When I confess my sin– the things I have justified, danced around, been shamed by, I am remembering these things are not to be taken lightly or ignored. I want to be rid of these.
  • When I add things, to aid in turning my attention to Christ, I am remembering His great love, grace and compassion. When I am drawn to Him and near Him, I want Him to be magnified, not myself. I don’t want to tolerate my sin. I want so much more– to be like Christ.

Lent is a time to become small– to recognize our idols and confess our sin. Lent is a time to make much of Jesus. My prayer is that my life will, continually over time– even if slowly, be about the word “magnify;” I becoming smaller and God becoming greater. I am so thankful for the time before Easter to remind me of this.

If this was helpful consider sharing it with a friend. Also,  What are you “giving up?” Giving up and giving more, may be helpful.

God be magnified. I then, become smaller.