“Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart,
With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” So rend your heart, and not your garments; Return to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, and of great kindness; - Joel 2:12-13
I confess that this year, Lent has crept up on me. Since retiring, and especially since the pandemic has shut us down in so many ways, I admit, I have lost track of the time – the church calendar time, to be specific. It would have been appropriate to post this BEFORE Ash Wednesday, which was Wednesday of this week. But I didn’t make it. However, since we are still in the very beginning of Lent, if you observe Lent and the tradition of giving something up, I think it is not too late to write this message.
One of the traditions of Lent is to give something up for that season. Many of our Catholic friends and some protestants like to practice that discipline. But why give up something for Lent? I ask myself once again, as I do every year ... what shall I give up? But also, what is my reason for giving it up? Is it to lose weight (because we all know my favorite thing is sugar!) Is it to sacrifice something that I love for the sake of my Lord? Is that what He wants?
For me, giving up something is the first part of it all. But replacing that void that I will most definitely experience with something else is the second and most important part of this Lenten exercise.
Lent is about reflection on my relationship with my Savior. It is about being quiet and listening to him. It is about "seeing" myself through His eyes and hearing what He wants for me as His child.
I think my giving up something that I find hard to do, requires a great dependence and trust in God. In those times when I feel I am weak and think I might give in and could talk myself out of doing this (after all, Jesus did the sacrificing for us already), if I will put my entire weakness and dependence on Him THAT'S where I get to what the whole point of Lent really is! Learning to lean on Him, instead of giving myself what I need. I'm trusting God to get me through.
That being said, a Lenten exercise doesn't have to be a giving up of something. It could be adding something ... like getting up an hour earlier (which is also hard for me!) and spending that time in quiet prayer and meditation.
What will I do? I'm still trying to decide, like everyone else. Can I do it? Can I stick to it, whatever it is? All I know is, I can, only with God's help ... which, of course, is exactly the point!
I’ll write more about Lent in the weeks to come, as there is much more about the season than just giving something up. I’ve decided to commit to a day of quiet reflection, fasting and writing. I’m telling you my decision, hoping that the telling will keep me accountable in this discipline.
May your Lenten Journey find you very close to the cross and extremely close to the heart of God.