February is in full swing in all of its twenty-nine day, leap year glory. There is a lot to pack into the remaining twenty days. Valentine’s Day, Black History Month and President’s Day are among some of the highlights.
My husband’s birthday and the Super Bowl (#PantherNation #NextYear) were also this month. Did someone say cake? Avoiding overindulgence hasn’t been easy as I celebrate my husband, my ethnic history, our nation’s presidents and my favorite football team. Whew!
The plate in the featured picture this week puts me in the mood for a treat. I’m sure it would go well with sips of my favorite latte. But I know there are sweeter delights inviting me to indulge on a deeper level.
The Lenten season starts tomorrow. Ash Wednesday points us to the Savior’s journey to secure the salvation of our souls. This holy season culminates on Resurrection Sunday, also referred to as Easter. It is a season of sacrifice, sanctification and reflection.
As I consider sacred ways to indulge, I appreciate the prophet Jeremiah’s sentiments about the most delicious food he ever ate:
“When I discovered your words, I devoured them; they are my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O LORD God of Heaven’s Armies.” – Jeremiah 15:16 NLT
Discover and devour. This was Jeremiah’s approach to God’s words. He delighted in what God said because he delighted in belonging to God. I’m sad to say; sometimes I give God’s words more of a polite chew than an obedient swallow. But when I receive them with joy, I reap all of their marvelous benefits.
If we receive God’s word with delight, very little is left on the plate. It’s not that His word decreases; it’s because we do.
For the next forty days, my church will journey through the pages of 40 Days of Decrease: A Different Kind of Hunger. A Different Kind of Fast. by Alicia Britt Chole (Thomas Nelson, 2015). I’m a hungry and intrigued participant.
Decreasing self-focus is uncomfortable, even painful. However, becoming more God-focused is the most powerful choice I can make. When I stop hanging around the dessert table of my selfish desires, I can enjoy a full course meal of God’s will instead. My tantrums over the temporary lessen. I become more elated over the eternal.
Sorry latte. I’m taking gulps instead of sips of God’s grace in the days ahead. And yet, as I grow more grateful for each gulp, I am more taken by the reason for it; to bear the name of the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies. Thanks for the reminder Jeremiah.
How are you planning to observe the Lenten season this year? I like the premise of Chole’s book. It states, “Instead of social media, chocolate, and designer coffee, 40 Days of Decrease calls communities to a Lenten fasting of apathy, injustice, resentment, hypocrisy, and more for the love of God.”
To fast is to abstain from an activity, food or drink.* If you’ve decided to fast from any of the aforementioned activities (like social media, chocolate or designer coffee) or anything else, do whatever you sense God is leading you to do.
As we prayerfully consider feeding the soul, here’s some good news: the sweetest way to indulge is to delight in God’s word to instruct us, His grace to sustain us and His love to fulfill us. This decrease of self will surely increase our hope for the heart and joy to the soul.
*Before fasting, check with your physician before making any dietary changes, changes to your activity level or changes to your medication regimen.