To Lent or Not To Lent
I have missed many opportunities in my lifetime due to not wanting to do something just because everyone else was doing it. Stubborn? Just a little. You'd think by now I would realize the reason that so many people are doing something is because it's fantastic. Can't tell you how much my life was changed once I got over myself and started texting. I'm beginning to wonder if Lent is a little bit like this. Do I miss out in my relationship with Jesus because I don't set aside those "40 days of Lent?" I realize not everyone observes Lent. When I was younger, it seemed as though only those in the Catholic Church observed the period between Ash Wednesday and just before Easter Sunday. Now it seems like each year with the hint of spring comes many people, no matter their faith, giving up a vice/behavior/habit for Lent. Whether it be drinking, television watching or fill-in-the-blank. Instead of setting something aside they may add something, like going to church or eating fish on a Friday. If that is what Lent is- giving something up just because that's what everyone else does then I'm not interested. But if Lent is the idea of a "season of soul-searching and repentance. A season for reflection and taking stock" then that is intriguing to me.
A few years ago for the first time, I declared "I’m giving up dessert for Lent." To be honest, I think it was more of a weight-loss plan that a practice of prayerful self-denial. I don't recall anything being different in my walk with God off or on the sweets. I do recall my husband very kindly requesting I find a different vice to give up should I ever declare to "do Lent" again. As it was that year my birthday, our anniversary, other family members birthdays all fell within that period. Made celebrating a little difficult and I haven't observed Lent since.
If you were to observe Lent you'd be in a sense imitating the 40 days that Jesus withdrew into the wilderness to prepare for His ministry, only you would be preparing yourself for Easter. Whether you did that by avoiding certain foods that would feel like a sacrifice to you, adding to a devotional reading, fasting, praying, choosing to be wiser and more engaged with your time whatever it may be I think it comes down to a choice.
Do you choose to set something aside for a time, not out of obligation or legalism, but out of a desire to reflect or if need be to repent? As the time of Lent approaches, I am drawn more and more to the idea that any time spent quietly pondering or being more intentionally focused on Jesus is a time that can only benefit those choosing to do it. Does not doing it affect His love for you? No. The last thing I would encourage anyone is to "do more." He already loves you to perfection. Nothing you do or don't do can make Him love you any less nor can observing, this time, make Him love you anymore. But what if observing Lent caused your love for Him to grow? What if it caused you to know Him a little more? What if it allowed you to be more connected to Him because you'd spent time being purposeful about your pursuance of Him? Worth it? Maybe it's just me but I think with any relationship if you put in 40 days of intentional time in you would leave that season with a stronger relationship. The cord that tethered you to one another would be strengthened. More durable and less likely to give way under the strain.
If you choose to observe Lent this season here is a link to the “Journey to the Cross” devotional that could be used and modified by you for you to use during your family devotional time during Lent.
This week's article is by Theresa Adams, a Redeemer member, a wife & a mom, who would someday love to have her own roller skating rink & thinks getting her kids to eat kale is a major victory!