It’s that time again. Lent. Those precious weeks leading up to Easter, my favorite holiday of the year because of the focus it brings on the resurrection of Christ. It stirs up this renewed hope that my family celebrates in greater ways now that we’ve experienced death firsthand and long for the day when He makes all things new. I never grew up with an awareness of Lent, but in recent years, it has become almost as dear to me as Advent. The kids and I put up our Lent ornaments each day on a tree, as we trace the beautiful story of Jesus from Genesis to Revelation. Personally, I pray through what God might be asking me to give up that year for this short (but seemingly long!) period of time.
Lent is one of the oldest traditions on the Christian calendar, dating back to the Council of Nicaea’s discussion over a 40-day period of fasting back in 325 A.D. Though practices have varied in how Lent was carried out throughout history, the general idea has always been self-denial, and the giving up of something that results in self-reflection and awareness.
I personally became acquainted with Lent several years ago, when people around me started talking about what they had chosen to “give up” that year. Since then, it has become more commonplace to talk about Lent, with something usually given up in order to obtain a closer walk with the Lord in the days leading up to Easter Sunday. Usually for me, the thing given up has to do with social media and technology in some shape or form. It just is one of those constant “love-hate” relationships in my life.
Giving up something is great and all, but I believe our question in this season, and in our decision making, must always be “Why?” And as I asked myself this question last week, I started looking at Lent differently. Maybe it’s because I’ve been working through a Bible study on discerning God’s voice, and have been digging into the ways the Lord speaks to us and how the Holy Spirit personally works in our lives as we engage with Scripture. But I knew that this year, it wasn’t as much about giving up.
It was about getting more. More of Jesus, that is. And I didn’t need the focus to be on something else I had to refrain from as much as I needed Someone to cling to.
You see, I’m so guilty of coming to God with my list. You probably are also familiar with the one. Where personal requests take priority over just being with Him. Where there’s so much I think I need to figure out for my life that I use prayer as a hopeful means to discover the answers, instead of a time to deepen my relationship with Him. Where I approach my time in His Word with what I can apply to my life instead of how I can learn more about my Savior.
So for Lent this year, I just want more of Him. I want to study the various attributes of His character, and in doing so, fall deeper in love with His heart. I want to put myself “on the back burner,” so to speak, so that He can show me Himself and I’ll just get out of the way. I want to forget about my plans and decisions and needs for the next 40 days, and just discover Him in new depths. He must become much greater in my life, and I must become much much less. And I’m not sharing about any of this at all to brag, but because I’m desperately frail and constantly mess up, so I really could use some accountability.
What does Lent mean for you? I’d love to hear. Whatever your thoughts are and however you may or may not celebrate it, I pray all of our focus in this Easter season would ultimately be Jesus. Because that’s Who it’s really always about, anyway.
Sometimes we just need a way to stop and remember that.