Each year, as Ash Wednesday approaches, I ask the Lord what He would have me give up for Lent. Having grown up in a non-denominational church, we did not celebrate the Church Seasons, but as I learned about their purpose, I was intrigued. Historically, the church has marked certain time periods as significant for various reasons and celebrated them in some form. Some of the more well-known seasons are Advent and Lent.
Of all the seasons, I particularly love Lent. Lent is the period of forty weekdays leading up to Easter Sunday. Traditionally, something is sacrificed during the Lenten season to point to Christ’s sacrifice for us. It is a solemn period, meant to remind us of the depth of our sin and its great cost. Some churches have a particular item or food that they give up during Lent, but I like to make it more personal and fast from something that may be pulling my focus off of Christ.
During Lent, whatever sacrifice God has led me to make causes me to look to Him instead of that item. Whenever I crave the fleshly fulfillment of a desire, I ask myself why I cannot give in. I preach to myself the truth that it is because I am a sinner who requires a Savior, and that Savior came to earth to live, die, and rise again to conquer my sin. What a heavy price to pay! And he paid it for me! When Holy Week comes, I am reminded of Christ weeping over Jerusalem’s lost state on Palm Sunday. On Maundy Thursday, I am reminded of his agony in Gethsemane, pleading with His Father to take this cup of sorrow from Him. I am reminded of the betrayal of all of his disciples–myself included. On Good Friday, I am reminded of that bitter walk up to Calvary.
And all of that suffering because of my sin.
After forty days of denying the flesh and reminding myself of the cost of my sin, when Easter Sunday finally rolls around, my heart is fairly bursting with joy at the thought of the empty grave! I keenly feel the reality of the victory Christ bought for me when he crushed the power of sin under his feet as he rose from the grave. The celebration of new life is so much the sweeter for the sting of death I have felt over the Lenten period as I died to my flesh.
Lent is not about self-sacrifice. It is about looking to Christ for the depth of His sacrifice on our behalf. It is about the victory over the power of sin that He won for us. It is about death defeated, slaves set free. It is about the joy of the new life we find in Christ’s resurrection.
Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. It is the day we remember that from dust we were formed and to dust we will return. In years past, I have chosen to give up movies, sweets, chocolate, etc. I have read through Lenten devotionals and particular books addressing the particular sin issue the Lord is addressing in me. I will post about what the Lord has laid on my heart for this year. Won’t you join me in asking the Lord how he would have you and your family celebrate Lent this year? My prayer is that it will be a season of renewal and resurrection in my heart, as well as yours.
For some fun, practical ways to celebrate Lent with your family, visit Lindsay’s blog at Passionate Homemaking.