The one and only time I gave up something for Lent was more than, ahem… a dozen or so years ago.
I wasn’t raised in a Christian home-I was in my twenties and passionately navigating my faith walk. As this particular Lenten season approached, I announced quite stoically to my husband that I would be giving up Chocolate for Lent. It would be my Grand sacrifice for Christ. I give in big ways (sarcasm intended).
Well… it felt like an epic failure-a Dove chocolate dipped creamy vanilla ice-cream kind-of failure to be exact.
Jesus spent forty days in the Judaean Desert. Forty. He fasted, like-he didn’t eat anything. Oh, and there was that whole thing with the devil showing up. Scripture says that he was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit-a time of preparation and deep spiritual reflection for what lay before him.
Back to my delicious failure. As it turned out this first sacrificial Lent experience of mine just so happened to line up with my first trip to the Happiest Place on Earth, no not the Coach Outlet Store in Eagan (remember this was 2002) no, The Happiest Place on Earth… DisneyWorld with its shiny castle and perfectly placed billowy clouds.
Our trip to The Magic Kingdom was about ten days before Easter Sunday. Up until that point I held true to my no chocolate vow. More importantly, I understood the value in giving something up. Each time I would normally reach for chocolate, I instead took pause and thought about the incredible, unfathomable, ultimate sacrifice on the cross.
Enter Dove Chocolate… Ugh. It was a short trip, my Hubby and I were there four days. We visited each park, all four of which had those little treat carts every twenty steps or so. The first three days I watched with envy as attendants reached into their portable deep freezers to pull out the Disney Signature Treat-Mickey’s Premium Ice Cream Bar. Imagine a vanilla ice cream bar, on a stick, in the shape of Mickey’s head, and then covered in a thick hardened layer of rich chocolate. Each time I saw one I wrestled with the notion of breaking my Lenten promise.
On our last day Mickey won… and truthfully it was as good as I had imagined it to be. I am so impossibly human. Jesus in the desert, fasting for forty days, forty.
The beautiful thing is that in Christ each day is new. Jesus, The Son of God, atoned for my sin, he atoned for your sin. His atonement leaves us fresh and clean. Nothing can separate us, not even our perceived failures, chocolate sized or otherwise.
I continue my faith Journey-and these years later I understand more deeply that it will always be just that, a journey. I’ll always be a work in progress, an impossibly human work in progress.
“Heavenly Father, we remain overwhelmed by the immense LOVE you have for us, regardless of all the ways we fall short in our intentions. Help us to continuously and faithfully return to you in all things. May this season of Lent be a time of deep reflection for each of us. Come Lord Jesus, more of you Lord.” And with that, a beautifully impossibly human, “Amen.”
Mindy Lynn Hilo and her family have been members at Easter for ten years. She is a conformation mentor and a regular contributor to Easter Praise. You can follow Mindy on her personal blog, embracingcharlie.com. Mindy’s book Embracing Charlie was honored with a Finalist Title in the Christian Inspirational Category of the 2014 USA Best Book Awards.