February is the beginning of Lent. The tradition in my family and many Christian families is to give up something for Lent. As a teenager, my father told me we should give up something we liked, to try and experience a little of the discomfort that Jesus had during his forty days and nights in the desert. Dad said we needed to choose something that we would miss if we didn’t have it. Some family members would give up alcohol, for example, during Lent. I was never much of a drinker so that wasn’t something I would miss if I gave it up. After much consideration, I decided that french fries would be what I would miss during Lent.
Now, for most people, french fries doesn’t seem like much to give up. Usually, people don’t have french fries more than once a week, and that is how often I have french fries too. But the perfect deep fried french fry is one of my favourite things to eat! I know they aren’t good for you and my favourite food should be a vegetable, but my preference is for a golden-brown crispy potato!
So, every year, beginning on Ash Wednesday, I stop eating french fries until after Good Friday. Although forty days doesn’t seem like a long time, it becomes longer in my mind as I count the days to my french fry fest on Easter weekend! I don’t know if it’s just me, but when I deny myself something I want it even more. During those forty days, it seems all the people around me choose french fries as their side for most meals. French fries seem to be everywhere, yet I can’t have them!
I realize that it’s my choice not to have french fries, but I do feel the temptation to have “just one” every time I’m around them.
The temptation of being around something I have chosen not to have is in no way comparable to the temptations that Jesus faced while he was in the desert for forty days, but it does remind me of Jesus’ plight every time I see french fries during Lent. I can’t imagine the courage Jesus had to resist Satan’s offerings while he was in the desert. Imagine being offered everything your heart desired and having the strength to say no to it! During Jesus’ forty days, the devil offered him everything the human heart seemed to desire, yet Jesus said no three times. Jesus was being offered everything that the “human” heart desired. The devil forgot or chose to deny Jesus’ deity. Jesus is God’s son and therefore was more than human.
Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness required him to deny his weak “human” side and to lean into his godliness. In denying the temptations offered to him we witness his strength and power! Jesus shows us how to resist earthly offerings and to instead, choose the way of God and his powerful love!
Once again, this year, I have chosen to give up my beloved french fries. Every time I chose not to have them, I remember how strong and powerful Jesus, his Father, and the Holy Spirit are in my life. Maybe this year, you can also give up something for Lent to remind you of Jesus’ sacrifice for us all!
God bless you.