As most of you know today is Ash Wednesday.  Although my church does not officially practice Lent as I knew it growing up, my family and I do abstain from something during the Lenten season.  We think it is a great way to remind ourselves DAILY of Christ’s love and sacrifice for us on the cross.  On paper this all sounds really great.  It should be easy and simple to give up some food item, time on Facebook or that favorite TV show since Christ ummm.., DIED for me.  But as I was praying and thinking about what to give up it really wasn’t that easy.
Here is what I was thinking as I meandered through the pantry this morning deciding what to abstain from: “I could give up my morning protein bar.  But it’s so fast and convenient.., no.  I could give up coffee.., Ha, that’s funny.  I could skip desserts; is a protein bar for breakfast with dark chocolate in it considered “dessert?”  I could give up chocolate.  Would that include Chocolate Chex?  What about hot chocolate?  Would drinks be included? I could still eat “sugar” though right?”
Like a lawyer combing through a case looking for every loophole possible in the hopes of giving up something that didn’t inconvenience me or cause me to have to “suffer” too much, I realized this morning that I was missing the point of Lent.  It is not what I give up or how long or if honey constitutes “sweets.” Lent is not about anything I can do, sacrifice or “give” to God.  Lent is a time to intentionally remind myself in the midst of my very busy life where I would otherwise fail to remember how much God loves me.  It is an opportunity to remind myself that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross cost Him something and cost His Father something but because He loves us – that cost was worth it. Lent is a time to reflect and give thanks for that love and for our Savior’s willingness to make that sacrifice for us. 
Dear Lord, I am sorry that I miss it so often.  I thank you for an opportunity during this Lenten season to be privileged enough to be able to forgo something that will remind me of how much you love me.  To be reminded that your death was not easy for you (you asked three times for it to be taken from you) but that you obediently died because you love me that much.  I can’t pretend to wrap my head around that but I thank you for a season to reflect on give gratitude to You for that.  I pray these next forty days will draw me closer to you and bring me closer to how wide and deep and high and long is your love for me. In Your Precious Name, Amen.”