Have your friends been asking you what you are giving up for Lent? It is a common question this time of year for those who choose to participate in the Lenten season which begins today.
When I was growing up, I was not familiar with Ash Wednesday, the season of Lent and the “giving up” of something for 40 days. It wasn’t until about 10 years ago that I experienced this 40-day journey for myself. It has become a time that I look forward to every year. I will admit, I have struggled with being disciplined at times, but I am reminded that I fall short every day, and I have a Savior who forgives and offers mercy.
As the years have passed and my faith has grown, I have gained a better understanding of the meaning and purpose of this journey. One thing I have learned is that God is more interested in who I am becoming than what I am giving up for Lent. It is about a relationship, not following rules.
These 40 days are an opportunity to sojourn with our Savior. A time to come humbly before the Lord and name the “real” in our hearts. A time to sit with our broken and sinful nature before our Lord and Savior. A time to confess and repent of our sins. A time to reflect on the overwhelming love, grace and mercy of Christ who bore our sins on the cross.
As I think about this 40 day journey, these words come to mind:
The Lenten season invites us to experience the darkness of our own sin and to remember that Jesus died for all of our sin and that we are forgiven. Let that overwhelm you. Let it humble you. Let it draw you closer, not further away from His presence. This time is an invitation to a create space in our hearts and live for a deeper connection, a deeper abiding and a renewed awe of these truths:
Christ has died.
Christ is Risen.
Christ will come again.
“Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. Joel 2:12-13
Your fellow sojourner, Jennifer Thomas
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