Why a photo of a Boston Cream Pie in a Lenten post? Because it has been my downfall.
As part of my Lenten discipline, I had promised myself I would fast from sweets, gluten, and other "junk" food during Lent, except on Sundays (which are not part of the 40 days of fasting). But when one's birthday is always smack-dab in the middle of Lent, it seems to cause a domino-effect that has me sliding into temptation and trouble.
Yes, I can have my birthday be an exception to Lent. But somehow it still snowballs. Keith didn't have time to make my Boston Cream Pie until a couple of days after my birthday, so I enjoyed my piece, saving the last piece to enjoy on Sunday.
But then there was some chocolate ganache leftover.
So last night the kids pulled out the last few cream puffs from the freezer while I remelted the ganache. I was determined not to have any. But as the chocolate melted, I just couldn't resist. How could a few cream puffs topped with ganache matter? There were eight cream puffs left, four for Keith and four for me.
And I caved.
You know, they didn't taste that good after all.
And then there was the leftover manicotti from Sunday's dinner. We haven't had manicotti for years since we haven't been able to find gluten-free manicotti noodles. But we had leftover ricotta from another meal, so I thought manicotti, stuffed with three cheeses and some sausage, would be a fun Sunday treat, despite the gluten.
But we had leftovers.
And I ate the leftover manicotti for lunch. Both Monday and Tuesday.
It is so easy to rationalize our sins, whether they be as seemingly insignificant as eating gluten or cream puffs during Lent or holding a grudge or finding ourselves envious over another's possessions, lifestyle, etc.
The thought "Well, it would be wasteful to not eat these leftovers" persuaded me to take the manicotti plunge. Two days in a row.
The thought "Well, the ganache is still 'part' of my birthday dessert, so it's really okay" echoed by my husband talked me into slathering the chocolately goodness over four small cream puffs.
And I just let it happen.
My digestive system is chiming in with my conscience regarding my poor choices in eating gluten. I chose to avoid these foods for health reasons, praying that Lenten discipline would help propel me into healthier eating habits all the year through. Then I discovered the problem.
I'm fasting for me, and not for God. Aye, there's the rub.
"Giving things up for Lent" is not what Lent is about. Lent is allowing God into the secret hidey-holes of my soul, asking Him to shine His light into the dank, dark crevices and reveal my sin to me so I can confess it and be forgiven. Cleansed. Made right, not by myself, but by Him who formed me from the dust of the earth.
But I am a forgetful, leaky person. My good intentions slip away at the first mention of ganache, of pasta. Did I truly forget that I wanted to fast from these foods? Nope, not at all. I willfully went forward, allowing myself to believe my weak rationales.
Lent teaches me that I can't do it on my own. I am not self-sufficient. I need help. I need Him.
I need someone to save me from myself.
And He comes, sweeping me off my feet into His loving arms, whispering assurances in my ear, washing me in His forgiveness, cleansing me in His love.
Because that's who He is: God is love.
And He's not our human love that is built on feelings and happenstance and duty and flakiness and poor reasoning and lapses in judgment and hormones and emotions.
His love is perfect. Everlasting. Unchangeable. Eternal.
His love is not based on what we do. Or what we neglect to do. Or how much or how badly we sin.
His love is based on who we are. He formed each of us lovingly, giving us this gift and that one, not giving us those other gifts. We are each unique, yet each made in His own image.
We are His children. He is "Our Father who art in heaven."
Our earthly fathers are not perfect. They made mistakes. They erred. They are forgetful and leaky, just as we are.
But not God. He doesn't make mistakes. We are His workmanship, His masterpiece, His poema (Greek for "workmanship" in Ephesians 2:10).
This Lent we walk forward in His forgiveness, our sin plowed to the surface where we can see it, confess it, be forgiven for it, and continue germinating His grace in our lives and in the lives of those around us. Spring greens the hills before us, birthing forth fresh newness that we inhale deeply, allowing it to tingle in our lungs, our limbs. Joy branches forth. All has been forgiven, is forgiven, will be forgiven.
Christ our Saviour walks this pilgrim pathway with us, arm in arm, hand in hand. We never walk this Lenten path alone...
... Thanks be to God!