Thursday, March 02, 2006

This Lent, Go Take a Dump

Lent is a gift from God. God knows we need wilderness space in order to empty ourselves of unwanted skubalon, to the end of knowing God more fully. So, whatever we do during this time ought to be designed to help us know God more fully.

Now hear this: Lent is not “self-improvement season.” When we give up chocolate, (or caffeine, nicotine, television, or some other indulgence) chances are that all it will make us think about will be chocolate (or caffeine, nicotine, television, or some other indulgence). We spend these 40 days (plus a few Sundays) obsessing over how much we are missing our little habit, then on Easter morning, we dive back into it with a vengeance.

The things we do during Lent should help us know God, or we should not do them. So it is okay to give up chocolate, if that helps you to focus on God, in other words, if chocolate is your skubalon. (Read Philippians 3. The polite translations of the word in verse 8 are “rubbish” or “garbage” – what Paul actually meant was “crap.”) In order to get rid of it, it helps to go out into the wilderness and dump it. Lent is that trip to the wilderness. (Yes, you might even say that Lent is the season to take a dump in the wilderness!)

But the point is not just to dump the skubalon, the point is to see God, to know God, to love God, to follow God. I got a lot of help thinking about his from an essay/devotion written by Debra K. Farrington and excerpted on Her suggestions for Lent: Have a heart-to-heart with God. Cut back on work. Sleep enough. Give up annoyance (“…try to avoid being annoyed…” – nice!). Seek a spirit of detachment. Pursue God through study. Take care of yourself.

I love these ideas. It is so easy to be distracted by our efforts to get rid of our distractions. So much that the Lenten discipline itself becomes the focus, rather than God. This Lent, I’m going to try to dump my skubalon (tee-hee!) and focus my heart, mind, and body on God.

(Image above is from Hermanoleon Clip Art - a great site!)


Seamhead said...

Andy, good post! Take a Dump for Lent . . . this is a much better way to observe Lent. I'm pretty sure I can give up watching the Tigers and focus on God.

Seriuosly, though, there is much "skubalon" distracting me in my daily life. In my case I think it gets in the way of listening to God. It gets the way of listening to my wife and family and friends as well.

How can have a good relationship with any of these if I'm not listening well? I think for Lent, I will listen more closely and see what God has to say.

Kathryn said...

In your Ash Wednesday meditation you cautioned against trying to take on all seven suggestions, which I think is wise. So I'm trying to give up being annoyed. IT IS HARD!!! I didn't realized I was annoyed so much.

dabeckztr said...

GREAT post! and I like the new word, i'll use it more often! My one question is why do we as christians need the season of Lent to grow closer to God? Why not all the time, Every Sunday should be a celebration that Jesus is Alive!...???
Oh and hermanoleon clip art, oh the memories of the reflections service!!! :)
see you next saturday!

Kansas Bob said...

I will never look at Phil 3:8 the same again :)

I kind of understand this seasonal aspect of the church calendar and somewhat understand its lure. Our challenge ... I think ... is to live Lent all year long. Every day is a new opportunity press on to the goal of knowing Christ.

Ichthus said...

To answer dabecktr, Sunday's in Lent are not part of Lent. Sundays remain a day of celebration!

I kind of like the idea that we should live Lent all year long, just as we should live Easter and Christmas. I think such a lifestyle may be attainable the closer we draw to Jesus, the more we read our Bibles, the more mission minded we become and the more we practice prayer, fasting and meditation. I have certainly not yet reached that level of spirituality consistently, but I have had days where I felt I so dwelt in the presence of Christ that I experienced Lent, Easter and Christmas simultaneously. And when I work an Emmaus Walk, I sometimes spend three days in such a relationship with God. Just think, Jesus spent every moment like that. As God brings me closer to perfection, I am more and more open to the truth that as we draw near to God, God draws near to us.

Adam Caldwell said...


Good to see you this weekend. Even though it was brief. I would say this is "clever." Then I would ask, "Hows that working out for ya?" You would reply, "What?" and I would respond, "Being clever."

dabeckztr said...

hey, ichthus!

I'm going on a walk to emmaus here in Dallas next weekend the 16-19th i'm excited and can't wait to experience it for myself!