Self-denial defined (obviously): the denial of one's own interests and needs; self-sacrifice.
I did not grow up a girl observing nor understanding the season of Lent but have always found it somewhat mysterious and intriguing. Like the ash on the forehead of my high-school friend on, of course, Ash Wednesday – that made me wonder why. Like fasting associated with the season of Lent – that makes me wonder why.
I’ll keep it simple and skip the theology, mainly because I know it would be an injustice.
Lent - expand, for me - one-tenth of a year, the 40 days approaching and in preparation for Easter.
Fasting - expand, for me - voluntary self-denial for a period of time during any point in time and for any length of time to gain a deeper fellowship with God.
This year when the season of Lent was approaching, I thought to go a little deeper, because as Ginny Owens’ lyrics ring in my ears, sometimes I feel like I’m stuck on the shore and I desperately want to go a little Deeper.
The Upper Room gives a great Lent 101 explain for those of us who are simple minded.
“Are you searching for more? Tired of running in circles…”
And GotQuestions.org reminds fasting is not a command but that the Bible presents it as something that is good, profitable, and beneficial.
Fasting = self-denial = good, profitable, and beneficial??
Benedict of Nursia (480-543) – a way, way, way long time ago – talks about “continuous lent” – I LOVE THAT - and puts it this way, “Let each one deny himself some food, drink, sleep, needless talking and idle jesting, and look forward to holy Easter with joy and spiritual longing.”
The Generosity Monk sums up Benedict in that “self-denial is “spring training” for disciples of Jesus who desire to follow Him through the seasons of life.”
How unnatural for one of this world to “self deny.”
And yet I’m in search of more - the deeper I mentioned above - to gain a deeper fellowship with God.
What? I can’t hear you. I’m paying attention, I’m trying to hear – really. I’m on the shore…
I’ve fasted on occasion chocolate or soft drinks, or in an effort to clean my palate or give digestion a rest. This time? Chocolate? Soda? – This time, for me, fasting “noise”! Extraneous noise which makes it nearly impossible for me to hear.
What? I can’t hear you. I’m paying attention, I’m trying to hear. Really? Turn off the noise.
I LOVE a great podcast - good noise, but sometimes it makes it hard to hear. I LOVE music – worship music, radio, or Ellie HolcombThe Broken Beautiful sending a blessing my way on CD - good noise, but sometimes it makes it hard for me to hear.
So for me, for now, no noise.
With the amazement of Easter and its approach next Sunday and one week left of Lent and my personal fast, the discovery of this self-denial has surprised. I’ve had “more hours in my day,” feels like; I’ve had intense prayer time, clarity and organization of the thoughts all crazy and random running around UP there (I once heard a woman’s mind described as ALL tabs OPEN at the SAME time across the top of a computer); I’ve made intentional phone calls, sent intentional emails and texts with those that have come to mind - when I’m able to hear; I've searched my heart and sought my Savior with focus and strange regularity as each time reaching for the "noise, " instead I was reaching for Him.
What say you on Saint Benedict’s thoughts on fasting written 1500ish years ago??
Of food? Maybe.
Of drink? Maybe.
Of sleep? Not on your life, you’re thinking, if you have littles.
Of needless talking? Interesting.
Of idle jesting? No problem.
Of? Of? Of?
Please, I can’t hear you. I’m paying attention. I’m trying to hear. Please comment below.
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Redeemed child of God