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What’s the One Thing You Should Give Up for Lent this Year?

Author Margaret Feinberg shares why giving something up isn't as important as laying hold of Jesus. 

Lily resting on Bible
Credit: (c) Stockbyte

The 40 days leading up to Easter can be some of the most life-giving, perspective-changing, revolutionary times of your year.

The Lenten Season marries repentance of sins and renewal of faith and is a rich opportunity to pursue God, stir your hunger for God and press your ear against the heavens so God can direct your path. This is the time to slough off the excess in our lives that we may live lighter and holier lives. This 40-day reset gives us the opportunity to live in gentle receptivity of God and create habits that we'll carry on throughout the year.

Often, however, the sole focus of the season is one simple question: “What are you giving up for Lent?”

Popular responses include everything from sugar to sodas, television to Twitter, Facebook to frenzied schedules. But perhaps we should be asking a better question as we prepare for Lent: “What do you want to lay hold of?”

A few years ago, instead of putting down the sweets or giving up the coffee, I felt compelled to read the entire Bible during Lent and invite others to join me. Thousands from around the world responded. I was left wonderstruck as pastors, churches, parents, kids, coworkers, and friends dove headfirst into the great big story of God. What I didn’t realize at the time is that many of the passages that came alive as I read would soon become my lifeline. Just a few months later we were ambushed with a heart wrenching call from a doctor. I was diagnosed with cancer.

The reading of Scripture had prepared me to fight cancer with an unusual weapon: joy. and that has made all the difference, but that might not have happened if I was only focused on what I should give up instead of what I could gain during this special time.

As Lent approaches this year, I can’t shake the nudge of the Holy Spirit to dive into the Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Or, what I like to call: Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. For about 10 minutes a day, for 89 chapters and 40 days, you’ll journey through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. It’s a big commitment, but one I’m excited to make, and even more excited to ask others to join in on.

God wants to speak to you through Scripture. He has words that are written just for your heart, just for this time, and just for what’s coming around the corner. Consider inviting your family and friends or small group to join in reading through the Gospels this Lent. Enter this time with prayer and faith that Christ will meet you, reveal Himself to you and surprise you as you seek to lay hold of more of Him.

I don’t know the one thing you should give up for Lent, but I do know the one thing you should lay hold of: Jesus.

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