“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living (Luke 15:13).”
This is Jesus’ description of the behavior of the younger son in the parable we often call “The Prodigal Son.” After telling his father that he wanted his share of the estate, he took that inheritance and then went into the far country and squandered his wealth in wild living. These words suggest one whose desires and energies are dissipated and random. He tosses his resources and energies here and there, willy-nilly, in his efforts to find… What? For what is he looking? Love? Power? Security? Joy?
We are now in the first full week of the season of Lent, this journey toward the heart of God. Lent is a hard and beautiful season. It is hard because it asks us to reflect very honestly on the ‘false loves’—those practices, habits, attitudes, accomplishments, entertainments, etc. –to which we have become attached in our efforts to find love, power, security, and joy. Like the younger son, we have become attached at the hip to so many false loves—all of which fail to keep their promises to make us happy!
During Lent we practice giving up certain things, or fasting from certain things, as a way of letting go of their hold on us. It must always be remembered that the goal of these fasts is greater freedom. Some people fast from food for a meal or more per week as a way of placing the gift of food in its proper place. Others may fast from electronics for parts of the week, or fast from the news, or any number of possibilities, as a way of loosening the hold of these things and placing them back where they belong.
Take some time to reflect thoughtfully on what you would like to give up during Lent. Perhaps it will help to write it down in a journal or share your commitment with a friend. Make this a prayerful commitment. Remember, it was for freedom that Christ set us free!