Each year, for the 40 days before Easter, I observe Lent. Lent is a time of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving in preparation for The Greatest Celebration. This year, among a few other things, I’ve decided to go gluten-free for Lent.
Why observe Lent?
Am I not always aware of the ultimate sacrifice? (I am!) If I believe that Jesus died on the cross for me (I do!) and that I am saved because of his grace (I am!) then why Lent? Why the dredging up the past? Why the remembering? What’s the point? Doesn’t God want me to rejoice in his gift every day of the year? Does God even care about Lent?
Lent isn’t for God, it’s for me. He doesn’t need it, I do. Church or no church, rules or no rules; if I don’t observe Lent, if I don’t take the time to remember the suffering and the sacrifice in a meaningful, physical way, then I’m not prepared to celebrate the Resurrection with full joy .
I know God doesn’t want my chocolate. He wants me. Although it could (and should) be done throughout the year, the 40 days before Easter are a meaningful time for me to slow down and reevaluate. He gave everything. Everything I have is his. How am I using those gifts? What am I giving in return? What is my thanks to the One who died for me?
No, God doesn’t want my gluten, either. Going gluten-free is something I’ve pondered off and on for a couple of years for health reasons. Our children have some skin issues and I have some digestive issues. None of it requires medication, it’s just uncomfortable and I’d like to see if a change in diet will give us positive results.
We’re taking the plunge during lent for several reasons.
- I’m a glutton. I enjoy food, probably too much. Even though we will still eat very well without gluten, going without will remind me how fortunate we are to enjoy a wide variety of our favorite foods at nearly any time. We are blessed!
- It’s a finite time frame. I know there will be difficult days in this journey, and knowing that it’s “only” 40 days will help me mentally pull through. Also, if gluten truly is causing some physical issues for us, 40 days should give plenty of time to see results so we can make some plans.
- When the going gets tough, the tough get praying! There will be cravings and frustration. I plan to offer up those difficulties. Jesus died for me! Surely I can go without waffles and pancakes for a few weeks.
- Lent is a time of almsgiving. A time to remember those less fortunate. While going gluten-free would be easier if I’d purchase a few specialty foods, my plan is to avoid that. I want to enter this challenge with a frugal mind-set, planning to spend no more on food than we usually do, and maybe even less. We like to give more during lent, and would like our gift to come from money we might normally spend on food.
- Gluten is in a lot of fun foods. Snack foods. Dessert foods. By giving up gluten we will also be giving up a lot of the sugar in our diet, which certainly won’t hurt our health issues! Plus, it simply doesn’t sit well with me to be noshing on brownies and cookies while remembering Jesus’ betrayal in the garden of Gethsemane.
If you observe Lent, what is your plan for the next 40 days? How do you prepare for Easter?