This morning I was going through an old notebook, looking at some notes I’d jotted down in the past year. I ran across this quote, which I heard Rob Bell say at a conference I attended last year. It is especially pertinent during Lent…
“Freedom is not having everything we crave, it’s being able to go without the things we crave and being OK with it.”
This is why I believe seasons like Lent are so important for me, for all Christians actually. During Lent we are reminded that we have attachments to so many things, many of which we aren’t even aware. Lent makes us aware. It causes us to pause, to reflect, to listen to the voice of God’s Spirit.
In the wilderness, Jesus was tempted to take matters into his own hands, to try the route of the quick fix, instead of the path of the suffering servant. Jesus’ response to this temptation was to quote from Deuteronomy, “It is written: ‘People do not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God'” [Matthew 4v4, TNIV].
The danger with living unaware of the ways in which we are ‘living on bread alone’ is that we can actually begin to believe that freedom is being able to choose whatever we want, without consequence or restraint. That, in reality, is just another prison. Freedom–true freedom–is not being mastered by what we crave; freedom means I am free to say ‘no’, even when saying ‘yes’ is easier.
C.S. Lewis said,
“Prosperity knits a man to the world. He feels that he is finding his place in it, while really it is finding its place in him.”
Lent is a season to reflect on all the things we’ve allowed to ‘find their place in us’ that are destructive and don’t belong. Lent is about true freedom–the freedom that really makes us free of all the things that enslave and master us.
May you find, this Lenten season, that we really do not live by bread alone, but by the life-giving Word of God, Jesus.
grace and peace.