"Why Does Jesus Care if I Eat Chocolate?"
When Kellen, our youngest, was four years old, she got in the car after her children's choir rehearsal. I asked how choir was and she quickly told me that they had chocolate chip cookies for a snack but she told them that she couldn't have any. Now, Kellen LOVES chocolate and I couldn't comprehend why she would say no to her favorite food on the planet. I, being the sweet mom that I am, asked her why she told them that she couldn't have any. Her response? "I gave up chocolate for Lincoln!" I failed to mention that Lincoln is her favorite president. I told her that she wasn't giving up chocolate for Lincoln but for Lent. I then explained that to her and she asked, "Why does Jesus care if I eat chocolate?"
I wasn’t raised in a faith tradition that typically gave up anything for Lent but Kellen's best friend, Caroline was and she had shared that with Kellen. Her question, "Why does Jesus care if I eat chocolate" really made me stop and think if I should consider giving up something for Lent which is really a season of conversion, a time to focus on turning our lives, our hearts, and minds back to God.
As I told Kellen, I don't think that God cares if we give up chocolate, but he does care if our hearts and our minds are focused on Him. When we give up something for these 40 days, we take those moments when we really want that "chocolate" and remember the time when Christ was tempted by Satan. We acknowledge the pain and suffering that He endured for us on the cross. We turn our hearts, our minds, and our lives back to Him.
My hope for myself, my children, all of us is that we focus our hearts and minds on Christ all year long, not just during Lent. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." 2 Cor. 5:17
We sing "Lord Have Mercy" by Steve Merkel a lot during Lent at MBC. This is the third verse:
"I have longed to know You
And all Your tender mercies
Like a river of forgiveness
Everflowing without end
So, I bow my heart before You
In the goodness of Your presence
Your grace forever shining
Like a beacon in the night"
May we use this time during Lent to focus on His goodness, His grace, His sacrifice allowing Him to be our Beacon in the night.