Today is Ash Wednesday. It is the start of the observance of Lent and a Christian tradition of giving up something–fasting for 40 days. There are many historical reasons for this period of fasting and I’m not here to debate the legitimacy of one practice over another.
I was told a long time ago that the concept of giving up something is great, if it leads one to rely on God to carry them through times of temptation. So we give up coffee and we pray when we are tempted to break our fast and have that cup of java.
Fasting isn’t a punishment. It is the act of letting go of something that we have come to rely on and to turn our reliance toward the Lord instead. For those of us going to receive ashes today, we do it as a sign up our faith and we do it as a sign of humility as we acknowledge that we are here for a time that God designates for our lives.
If you are letting go of something that has become your idol or your go-to when you are stressed or in need of comfort, I encourage you to also take this fasting time to invite Jesus into those areas. Pray with others. As for a blessing of the Holy Spirit to guide you. Let go of the things that you turn to and grow in the areas that God is calling.
Easter is around the corner. Now is the time to prepare for it.