REVIEW OF THE GOOD OF GIVING UP: DISCOVERING THE FREEDOM OF LENT
BY BISHOP STEVE BREEDLOVE
FEBRUARY 26TH, 2017
Although we plugged this book in our last AnchorLines, I just finished reading The Good of Giving Up, and I am eager to commend it to you. It is an accessible, personal, practical, and pastoral encouragement to enter into the classic disciplines of Lent. (That Aaron used to be clergy in our Diocese, and is known to many of you, only strengthens my recommendation. Aaron “put his feet under our table” every month for two years as a participant in the Anglican Missional Pastor program, and Sally and I know him well. The honest, humble tone of this well-written book matches the character of this good brother.)
The Good of Giving Up is divided into three sections, The Case for Lent, the Path of Lent, and Leading Others through Lent.
All three sections are helpful, but I particularly appreciated Part 2, The Path of Lent. Having affirmed the heart of a true Lenten devotion in Part 1, Aaron then strongly encourages us to choose the classic Lenten disciplines of fasting, prayer, almsgiving, and confession. His encouragement is grace-filled but firm, leaving me eager to enter fully into a Holy Lent this year.
This book is filled with practical, quotable wisdom. Enjoy these few excerpts, but more than that, order and read this book soon. And use it as a springboard for a renewed, rich 2017 Lent.
In theory the gospel is compelling, but in reality we would rather pay attention to whatever Netflix is offering. We are so full on the junk food of our culture that we cannot metabolize the feast on our Easter plates. (p. 23)
The desert is where God called his people to make them holy. We might assume that the wilderness is a place of exile and isolation, and it can certainly be that. But in the story of redemption, the wilderness has always been a sacred rendezvous spot for God and His beloved sons and daughters. In the wilderness, we detox from our false attachments and renew our sacred, primal bond with our loving Father. (p. 25)
Being at the center of the universe is a burden too heavy for our shoulders. Beginning on Ash Wednesday, Lent opens us up to the divine blessing that we can receive only when our hands are empty and we no longer see ourselves at the center. We might be dust, but we have the cross, and that is more than enough. (p. 54)
We need Lent because repentance is not just a prayer. It is a posture . . . Practicing Lent is like taking a long bath in wonderful grace of Jesus. (pp. 62-63)
Apart from our union with Christ, we are proud and fearful people, bent toward trying to earn merit. Any good action, prayer, or vocation, therefore, can become works-righteousness. But that doesn’t mean we cease praying, giving, fasting, or loving our neighbor. . . As Dallas Willard wrote, “Grace is not opposed to effort, but is opposed to earning.” The season of Lent is a participation in God’s life, not an entrance fee to heaven. (p. 88)
I don’t enjoy the discomforts of Lent, and neither does my friend Josh. But both of us have found that hunger pangs wake us up spiritually . . . (T)he Holy Spirit used a sermon from Jesus’ rebuke to the church in Laodicea (Rev 3) to awaken Josh to the perils of self-satisfaction. “I realized that ceaseless physical comfort made me spiritually numb,” Josh said. “My attitude toward Christ’s redeeming work mirrored that of the Laodiceans: ‘I am rich, and I have prospered, and I need nothing.” (Rev 3: 17) . . . That night was a turning point for Josh, freeing him to embrace the pain of discomfort for the greater reward of dependence upon his Savior. (p. 108)