Today is the beginning of the Lenten season preparing for Easter. For some, the arrival of Lent is an unwelcomed invasion of life’s personal space, a harsh interjection of dissonance into life’s rhythmic cadence. Lent comes extending an offer that is often too costly, too demanding. Lent is thought to be merely a summons to forfeit pleasures and to forgo delights. And Lent is that, but it is not merely that. The fasting of Lent is a means to renew our appetite for the only Delight who can truly satisfy. Lent reminds us that sin is supreme delight in lesser things and invites us to enjoy supremely the greater Delight.
The fasting of Lent is a means to renew our appetite for the only Delight who can truly satisfy.
C.S. Lewis once remarked that contrary to expectation, God would not find the desires of our heart too strong as if they needed to be quelled but would find them too weak, waning in pursuit of insignificant delights. “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” Lewis understood something about the gospel that is often overlooked. The gospel does more than free us from sin—it introduces us to a greater Delight, indeed the greatest Delight, the presence of God in Jesus.
But this world has a tendency to dull our appetites for the supreme feast of the gospel. The sin that still haunts and lurks in our hearts so easily entangles and ensnares us with its deceitful offer to set our table with lesser delights. “Come and eat and be satisfied.” Or in Lewis’ analogy, “Come and delight in making mud pies.” And all the while the gospel invites us to delight with ever increasing joy forever and ever in the presence of the eternal God who is love.
The gospel does more than free us from sin—it introduces us to a greater Delight, indeed the greatest Delight, the presence of God in Jesus.
Lent is a fast from lesser delights in order to feast afresh on this one supreme Delight, to be satisfied and full and happy in the presence of God. And in feasting first on the greater Delight, the lesser delights will in fact become more delightful because they are rightly enjoyed, not as substitutes for the one true Delight, but as pointers to the one true Delight.