It Smells and Tastes so Good
Since this is the first Sunday of Lent — the 40 days leading up to Easter when we go introspective to examine our hearts, I’m thinking about food. What? Seriously! Isn’t that the way it is when we purposely decide we’re not going to eat this or that as an offering or sacrifice to God, THAT is exactly what we desire the most. I’m thinking about a tender, medium-rare steak. My mouth is watering. I haven’t had a steak in a very long time.
I blogged about my purposely reading the Bible through cover-to-cover this year. My Old Testament readings have brought me to the Book of Leviticus. I’m reading about God’s instructions to the Israelites about sacrificial offerings. There is the Burnt Offering, the Grain Offering, the Peace Offering – all of which were “sweet smelling savors” to God. And the last two offerings were the Sin and Trespass Offerings that weren’t “sweet smelling” at all to God because they represented the sins of the people and God knew that His beloved Son would one day pay the price for their sins and ours. As I read, I became more grateful than ever that God chose A.D., not B.C., for me to be alive — AFTER Christ was the ultimate sacrifice for my sins.
Christ’s sacrificial offering of Himself was a fragrant aroma to God. His life, for the animals. His life, for mine. I haven’t really enjoyed reading about all those offerings and sure didn’t see it as God’s “love letter” to me. But, oh, contraire! It IS God’s love letter because it points me to Jesus and God’s great plan of redemption for all mankind. The sacrifices of the blood of animals could never completely take away the sins of the people. They only pointed forward to the day when Jesus would voluntarily give Himself to die a horribly painful, bloody death on the cross.
So, how do we repay Him for His ultimate sacrifice of Himself for us? During this season of Lent, we have the opportunity to offer up sacrifices to God of ourselves. What does that look like? Not eating chocolate or drinking coffee or not watching a favorite TV show or giving up social media? Or can it possibly be not fasting “things” but God’s Fasting:101 Class found in Isaiah in 58:1-9: “to fast from injustice, to set free those who are oppressed, to feed the hungry; to clothe the naked.” What if our “fasting” during the snow and ice storm had been opening our homes to those who had no power or water or shelter? What if we had cared less about our comfort and more for others who were in far worse discomfort?
Wonder what kind of aroma it is when we offer God the sacrifice of not eating chocolate or not drinking coffee? I tend to believe that God would “savor” our fasts far better when we fast from anger, gossiping, criticizing, complaining, bitterness, unforgiveness, holding grudges. My devotional booklet, “The Word Among Us”, says it this way: “Instead of fasting – why not feasting?” Instead of gossiping, feast on silence and discretion; instead of criticizing, feast on affirming people; instead of complaining, feast on counting your blessings and sharing them; instead of holding grudges, feast on forgiveness.
May God give us all the grace we need to fast like God says in His Master-Class. Fast from the negatives that displease God and feast on the Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, gentleness, meekness, faithfulness, and self-control. Don’t we know that God will receive that kind of fasting and feasting as a “sweet smelling savor”?