You who dwell in the garden with friends in attendance,let me hear your voice.
Song of Songs 8:13
So what did you decide to give up for Lent? After all, it is traditional to give up something, usually chocolate, biscuits, or sugar perhaps. Of course, it is not always easy to give up something which you like or value. Do you have the will power to continue your abstinence until Easter? By the way, how are you getting on with your New Year’s resolutions? Are you still keeping them or have they been consigned to the rubbish heap weeks ago? Why is it so difficult to keep our good intentions? The temptation to give up is always there focussing on our hungers and the fear that we will starve. There is always a battle between some want or desire and the inner conviction that this is not good for me. Even Jesus was tempted in the desert (Matthew 4:1-11) and so are we, every day.
But, let us suppose that you have resolved to give up your daily chocolate bar for Lent, and that you manage to keep to that resolution. The question then arises, what are you going to do with the time previously spent choosing and eating that favourite chocolate bar? Equally, what are you going to do with the money you have saved?
Since a single chocolate bar might cost around 60p, and if you usually eat a bar a day then over the 40 days of Lent you will have saved £24.00. The temptation is to keep that extra cash in your pocket! But when speaking of fasting, which essentially is what you are doing, the Lord says: Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe them and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Isaiah 58:1-9 (NIV). So, why not use it to buy a cup of tea for that homeless person .
And what about the time saved not queuing up in the supermarket to buy it in the first place and then consuming it? Will you use it to gaze at your computer screen for a little longer or will you find a quiet place and offer a prayer, talk to God and listen to what He has to say to you. The temptation to do nothing is always there. But you might ask for God’s help to serve Him free from the temptations which are always lurking in the background. A simple prayer will do. Why not pray the words Our Lord Himself taught us, asking God to “lead us not into temptation, but to deliver us from evil”
At his baptism Jesus listened to His Father’s ordaining voice and so was able to overcome the Tempter. In the same way since God loves you so much He wants what is best for you, He will help you battle with your temptations, if you just ask Him, for God will always answer your prayers.
Peter is a father and a grandfather who has been retired from full time work for a number of years