As I prepare for the Passion week and the Easter weekend, I find myself empty, which is the best place to be.
Every lent season I give something up; deny myself something that I like, or even love. Self-denial is not a bad thing. Especially when it denies me of something that I have placed before God. So I made a lofty goal this season; one that frankly might be too lofty for me.
As I sit here, 12 days into the lent season, I have failed. My goal that was too unachievable for me has not been attained. Why did I fail? Because I thought I could do it all by myself. I thought I could handle my self-denial. I did not thoroughly turn this over to God. While I was denying myself, I found that I thought about it constantly. The point of self-denial is to remove that which we idolize and put before God, in order to focus and spend time with God. Is it really spending time with God when in the midst of denial I spent all my time thinking about it? I had also planned "mini-breaks" from this process, and found that I then over-indulged during break. Is this what it is supposed to be like? I don't think so. In denying myself, which was supposed to bring me closer to God, I actually find that I am thinking about it more, putting God even further away than I had before.
So many emotions are just flowing over me right now. I feel sad for my failure, but peaceful knowing that God doesn't love me any less. He won't hold it against me that I didn't succeed. It is just a ritual, just a piece of legalism. He wouldn't reward me for knowing I completed it if my heart hadn't been in the right place. He won't discipline me for not having made it, if my heart is in the right place.
I have learned so much over the last twelve days.
1) I am weak.
2) I need God to sustain me.
3) I am wicked; placing things of this world before the sovereign God.
4) He loves me anyway, despite my failures.
I will start again, and I may fail. Maybe not today or even tomorrow and maybe not during this season, but I will. That is okay. When I fail, I only have to look up to the one who loves me more than anything. The one whose death for which I am preparing during this season.