Passover was over at sundown on Tuesday. Another year, another faithful reminder.
(Post from last year in which I explain the basics of Passover)
During the days of Passover, we are commanded to refrain from eating yeast (leaven). Leaven becomes a picture, a representation, of sin. An issue that seems impossible to rid your life and home of...a constant, daily reminder that it can’t be done in your own strength...and our desperate need for a Savior.
“Seven days there shall be no leaven found in your houses; for whoever eats what is leavened, that person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is an alien or a native of the land. You shall not eat anything leavened; in all your dwellings you shall eat unleavened bread.” Exodus 12:19-20 (bold, italicized mine)
Every year I am more and more grateful for this tangible concept. When fasting from anything, you become very conscious of your dependence and need for God. You have to put effort into what you’re eating, thinking it through and weighing the choices. (which can tend to be exhausting!) You can’t just swing through your favorite fast food place and grab a quick bite. Meals with friends becomes more involved because you have to figure out what you can and can’t do…and how to handle the individual situations gracefully without causing offense. It’s a time of constant prayer, conversation, and communion with God.
I was making it through the week without any major problems. The cravings and desires creeped up, but were dealt with. And then......the birthday party.
We were at a restaurant celebrating a friend, and I was feeling good about my intentional preparations for the night. I had been apprehensive about it because it was a German restaurant, and it's pretty much all pork all the time. (which I don’t eat) So my friend Holly and I researched the menu a couple days before and found 3-4 kosher choices. I walked in feeling prepared and the stress fully subsided. Course, there were baskets of amazing looking bread already on the table…and it did cause a momentary temptation…but I persevered through.
It was a really fun night. I went with my guard fully up…but relaxed once the entrée was ordered and I had successfully dealt with my bread envy. Presents were exchanged, bonding was in full swing...and the all-beef Hungarian goulash was delicious. In the midst of the merriment we ordered dessert and continued laughing and telling crazy stories. I was having so much fun and was thinking how happy I was that I chose to come and not let the limited menu keep me away.
It hit me.
I looked down at my mostly eaten, fluffy crusted, cherry streusel…and then I looked over at the bread pudding Holly just consumed. Yummy...leaven goodness...that neither of us thought twice about. I just sat there a moment trying to comprehend it all. How did I come in so prepared…and suddenly let this happen without a second thought? How did two people doing what God said, holding each other accountable, let it slip by? I leaned over to Holly and told her what I just realized. She gasped loudly, and of course brought all the attention on ourselves. So we shared what just happened…and the laughter and jokes began. “Ohhh…see how simple it just creeps into your life?” "See how you weren't paying attention?" “Ohh...you’re in need of a sacrifice now!” The jokes and comments continued for several minutes.
And I laughed…and joked along with them. (because it was funny…and I’m not crazy or legalistic and get that I wasn’t being sent straight to Hell, nor did I need to find the nearest unblemished lamb to paint my doorframe) But...in the midst of the jokes...something was stirring deep inside.
Because all jokes aside...that’s the Truth of it. That’s the purpose of this fast. That is why God said to celebrate THIS holiday of Passover…because He wants to give us a tangible reminder that we can’t do it without Him. That we need God to keep our boundaries up. And we need the blood of Jesus to cover, protect, and cleanse us when those boundaries come down.
Every year the same lesson.
And every year, I become more and more thankful for this reminder.
But every year, I become more heartbroken because so many Christians refuse to be a part of this life-altering event God gave us. Now, I have many friends who celebrate Lent, and I sincerely hope the following doesn’t bring offense, because it’s truly not my intention in this post. But I don’t get it. I don’t get, as the Body of Christ, we blatantly choose to ignore the treasures God gave us, God commanded us, to participate in…simply because it’s been separated by a single page in our Bible that declares it “Old”. Yet, because our Creator purposefully created us with this kind of need for worship within us- to give up something for God, to set aside a time to remember and reflect on what Jesus did…we freely run after and embrace these Easter concepts, which are man-made and pagan in origin. Lent has become the newest trend in Christianity- people outside the traditional denominations are embracing it like never before…because something inside of us is crying out, knowing that there is significance in this kind of fast and celebration. But we shun the ones God ordained. The ones He perfectly designed to reveal to us His eternal plan for the ages. We ignore the holiday and fast created by God Himself, to remind us that the perfect sacrifice was made for us...because we couldn't...we can’t...find freedom, redemption and salvation by our own strength and works.
And every year, the sadness I feel because the Church is missing out on these truths, intensifies just a little bit more.
Regardless of the added effort it takes, regardless of the fact that I may not make it through without intentional or unintentional mistakes…I am always deeply humbled and grateful for this tangible reminder of His extravagant love for me. This is the purpose of His beloved Passover.