Lent. It's not just for Catholics. Let's just say that Lent for the past, oh, 5 years has not been kind to us. God has used the season before Easter to scrape off layers of our mess until finally, last year, we had no choice but to face it. This year, we're looking forward to celebrating instead of mourning. We even decorated with a sweet Lenten calendar from Naptime Diaries!
Lent is simply the 40 day period before Easter, excluding Sundays. "Lent" is the Old English word for spring (yay!). Contrary to popular opinion, Lent is not a Catholic word for "hotbed of Protestant controversy" or "self-flagellation and forced repentance in order to earn righteousness."
If you celebrate Advent in preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus, consider participating in this season set aside for somber consideration of the death and, ultimately, resurrection of Jesus.
Church seasons aren't designed to make us feel inadequate or forced into practice. Rather, they help us rest, worship, and reset out priorities.
Lenten fasting, then, is not a masochistic way for us to pretend that we're suffereing like Christ suffered on the cross. But it can re-orient our hearts toward Jesus. I was so tempted to give up something that would benefit me physically, like banning sugar. But for me, that sounded more like a diet than a fast. In the end, I had to ask myself: What do I turn to instead of God? What do I lean on in difficult times? What do I spend my free time thinking about?
When I wake up, do I open my laptop first, or my Bible? When I'm so tired and filled with worry, do I pour out my heart to the One who knows my innermost being, or do I try to fill the hole in my heart by filling my stomach with sweet treats? Perhaps, without these crutches, I will learn to lean on God more. I will turn to Him first.
My Lenten fast won't make me holier, but it will point me to the cross. My small sacrifice will whisper of a much larger sacrifice and a saving grace that I could never earn. And when and if I mess up, I can rejoice in the fact that I could not earn my salvation even if I had perfect willpower. The work is already done and there's nothing I can do to deserve that. That's why we celebrate Easter!
Giving something up in and of itself can't bridge the gap between you and God, but it can help us cast down our idols. Are you giving anything up this Lent?