forty days and forty nights

Today is the first day of Lent. Many people have given things up, offered them up to God as something they may put before Him. I have never truly taken this religious “observance” (because I suppose it would be odd to call it a holiday) all that seriously. I wasn’t raised Catholic. My father was, but made it a point to separate his spiritual faith from that of his parents. As a nondenominational-evangelical-Protestant, Lent never really occurred to me as something I should take part in, though I was of course aware the value placed on fasting.

But this year, I’m taking part, with intention and conviction. I have, in the last few years, allowed my faith to become complacent at best, ignored at worst. My walk with God, my relationship with Christ has been pushed to the side in favor of many other things. While some of those things may have been pardonable (academics), others are not. Nothing should take the place of spending time in God’s Word, of speaking with God, of fellowshipping with those who would build up your faith. But worldly things are tempting, and I am often tempted.

So for forty days, I’m fasting from books: from literature, from novels, from audiobooks, from the books I put on hold at the library, from the free ebooks I get on amazon every few days. I spend hours a day reading. (To put this in perspective, I can read a four-hundred page novel in a day. This can be viewed as impressive or disturbing at your discretion.) And I prefer my stories with a happy ending to the Bible. Some days, I prefer novels to the exclusion of everything. There is nothing wrong with reading, and I suspect it will always be my guilty pleasure. But I have let it take priority in a way that has harmed my spiritual walk with God. So I’m giving it up. I’m trading fiction for the Bible, romance novels for spiritual nonfiction, and hours of mindless reading for hours of prayer. I’ve already made it through day one, choosing to read James and parts of 1 Corinthians rather than the much-awaited sequel to Austenland. Bear with me through the next thirty-nine days. I shall persevere.

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