“So, what are you giving up for lent?” she asks me as we run on treadmills side by side.

“Well…”

And my mind takes me back to my childhood when lent meant no dessert for 40 days, and how good it all tasted on Easter Sunday, and how proud of myself I was for being so good and strong and not having any sweet for the whole time. And how happy baby Jesus must have been because I did it for Him.

And my mind takes me back to the days when I met Him for real, this Jesus who was not a baby anymore, and how my whole world was rocked and I saw for the first time that all of my attempts at doing good things for Him were ridiculously irrelevant because He did it all at the cross, and how I started to judge and mock the ways of men who traditionally do things like “lent” and “giving up something” for Jesus, and how I am free from all that, free, free, free! None of this matters any longer.

But years went by and I matured some, and this Jesus has become my intimate companion, and He kindly constantly questions my motives, and my thinking, and my strong opinion. He won’t be put in a box, this Jesus who has  become my Lord.

And I’ve been thinking… maybe these Lent traditions aren’t all that bad. Not because they earn me Brownie points for giving up something, not because I owe it to Jesus, but because it’s good to be sobered and remember His suffering. And because my allegiance is to the One who gave up everything to call me His own, to present me to His Father perfect, unblemished, without a spot–a bride for whom He gave up His life.

And I’ve been thinking… maybe these Lent traditions are pretty much okay, because they can be used to remind me that in Him I can do all things, but only in Him, and no praise will come to me, but a great joy of being perfected in His presence.

And I’ve been thinking…maybe these Lent traditions are wonderful. Not because we give something up, not because we subtract from our lives for 40 days, but because by subtracting, we always add. We add more life. We add more joy. We add more life.

By subtracting, we add more Jesus.

Cultivating Thankfulness with Ann

one thousand#492 Enjoying a cold sunrise

#493 Worship music blasting through my house

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