What Am I Willing to Give Up to Get to Heaven?
This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday. Then Lent will begin and the season of repentance will be among us. Every year I usually give up the standard fare. It might be alcohol, snacks, candy, soda, etc. But I think sometimes we all miss the point.
We live in a world, especially in the United States, where distractions and attachments abound. Our phones beep and we are distracted. A beautifully articulated blog post shows up on Facebook and we are enchanted. An intoxicating aroma reaches our nostrils from the kitchen and the next thing we know, we are snacking without thinking. We are losing our ability to be present. But more importantly, we are losing our ability to be present with God.
It is said that during Lent we are to empty ourselves so that we can make room for Christ. This is true. But I would like to take this a step further. So often the distractions and attachments that we give up for Lent also become the grand reward we get to satisfy ourselves with once again when Easter comes. But this seems like what Proverbs 26:11 tells us when it describes, “The dog that returns to its vomit.”
What would your life be like if when Lent was over, you continued to avoid TV every night, or remained steadfast in not snacking or drinking, or continued with shunning candy? Lent should strengthen our resolve to avoid the trappings of life and seek Christ with greater resolve throughout the entire year and by extension our whole lives. Not to run back to the trappings when the short 40 days is over.
Lent is the time to let go of what keeps us from pursuing what our hearts really desire. As St. Augustine said, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” The more we enter into relationship with Jesus, the more he makes us new and sets us free to pursue the only thing that can actually bring us the happiness we desire. When we throw off the attachments during Lent, and hopefully then indefinitely, we have more time to be present with God, our loved ones, and our friends. This is where a good Lent can lead us. It can lead us from attachments to finite and pointless things, to the Kingdom of God in our midst, where we are present to what really matters and free to follow the truth, the way, and the life. In this regard we should ask ourselves, the following question.
What am I willing to give up to gain Heaven?
The answer should be everything.