Each year during the Lent season, like many people I opt to “sacrifice” something during the weeks leading up to Easter. Logically I know that there is absolutely nothing I could offer in sacrifice to Christ that would begin to compare with what He sacrificed for me. Somehow I still feel compelled to challenge myself by sacrificing something meaningful to reach a more intimate level with God.
The word sacrifice by its very definition means to offer something precious. This year I took the time to seek God and figure out what was most precious to me. I had a strong desire to sacrifice something that would really cost me. My list was surprisingly long.
Rather than picking one thing and giving that single item up for the six weeks of Lent, this year I decided to pick several things – things I fear have a tendency to control me — and each day sacrifice one of those things. My Lent experiment, if you will.
My experiment had me giving up many days of food in varying degrees. I fasted from all food for a few days and fasted from sugar for many days. I gave up diet soda for several weeks, which was tough since I’m not a coffee drinker so diet soda tends to be my “go to” source of caffeine.
My addiction to convenience and control prompted me to sacrifice many days of electronic devices that monopolize so much of my time. I fasted from my computer, the internet, Facebook and all other social media sites, television and even my phone.
Wanting to be radical with my sacrifices, I even went so far as to sacrifice the words of my mouth for one whole day. My vow of silence was prompted after reading a book entitled, The Way of the Heart, Connecting With God Through Prayer, Wisdom and Silence, by Henri J.M. Nouwen.
Nouwen states in his book that “silence makes us pilgrims, guards the fire within and teaches us to speak.”
Offering my words in sacrifice to God was one of my more difficult sacrifices, requiring a mighty determination I didn’t even realize I possessed. Silence is a discipline that requires cooperation from the rest of your household in order to achieve success. My silence was the one sacrifice my husband asked me not to repeat. He gained a greater appreciation for my conversational contributions to our relationship by living with my self-imposed silence for 36 hours.
My family failed to grasp the concept that my silence didn’t equal my loss of hearing as well; opting to withhold all conversation simply because I couldn’t respond. What I conveyed to them once I regained my speech was that just because a person can’t speak doesn’t mean they can’t listen. I wanted to hear about their day; they didn’t see the point in talking if I was unable to share my thoughts.
My vow of silence stretched me more than any of my other sacrifices, for it was only in the depths of my silence that I gained a greater understanding of what it meant to offer up something precious. I learned that I really like the words! On the bright side though, I had ample time to do lots of reading and praying and I found a bit of humor in Proverbs 17:28 which says: “Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.”
While I would confess that nothing that I “sacrificed” during my Lent experiment, including my words, really caused me to severely suffer, I do admit to being stretched beyond my comfort zone – reminding me, yet again of the immeasurable sacrifice our Lord and Savior made for us on Calvary.
Overall I’d say my experiment was hugely successful and one that I won’t hesitate to repeat in the future. My experiment helped me to realize that I was slightly out of balance in some areas of my life. I learned that there is life (and freedom) without email, Facebook and cell phones, and keeping life simple just requires one to occasionally shut-up and listen.
But the king [David] said to Araunah, “No. I’ve got to buy it from you for a good price; I’m not going to offer GOD, my God, sacrifices that are no sacrifice.” 2 Samuel 24:24 (The Message Bible)
As always… happy reading!
Blessings in Christ,