A time of letting go.
A time of preparing.
A space to rest and reflect.
So often overlooked by modern culture.
Sometimes overly strict for perhaps the wrong reasons.
In the history of the Church, Lent is the season before Easter. It is marked by 40 days that precede Resurrection Sunday (excluding Sundays), or about 6 weeks. For many in the Catholic Church, lent became a season of giving up sweets and alcohol. Before Lent begins, on Ash Wednesday, there is one last hurrah on Fat Tuesday. (in French… Mardi Gras, which translated literally means Tuesday Fat). That’s also a reason many children typically receive candy on Easter morning, to mark that the fast from sugar is over. Hopefully the kiddos aren’t also getting a bottle of booze in their basket.
Some people know this information well.
Some might say, “Oh, ya. I kinda recall that.”
Following the tradition of giving up things, I know people who have taken a break from Facebook for Lent. Others who do give up sugar or alcohol. Sometimes people give up other foods like coffee or soda. (Yes, coffee is its own food group. Don’t judge. Also, I’m not giving up my coffee this Lent) I’ve known people who give up one meal a day. If you’re giving something up, let me be the first to encourage you!
In the right idea of Lent, it’s not just about giving something up. Because in that model, it’s all about us. In this busy culture and busy lives that we lead, the giving up of something trivial is easy. No candy, meh, I can handle 40 days. Skipping Starbucks for the home brewed coffee, ya, I can handle that. And in our busy, I’m sure something else will fill that space or perceived need we have.
If it’s not about me and what I’m sacrificing, then where is my focus? It’s more about replacing. It’s about replacing that activity you would normally do or food you would normally eat to spend more time with Jesus. It’s about journeying through those last weeks and days until he was crucified on the cross. It’s about remembering what He has already accomplished on your behalf and growing your soul closer to Him.
Really, the Lenten Season is a both a giving up of something personal to us and a giving in to something so much greater than us. It’s about surrendering our ways to the The Way. It’s about letting Jesus into our personal, daily, breathing in and breathing out spaces of life. It’s about letting Him guide us and transform us, bringing a true inner peace and understanding in a way that only He can.
So what does that really look like to give up something a little more personal?
That can be a challenge.
Rearranging our schedule to make more time with Jesus? Giving up our old ideas and ways of doing things? Letting go of our expectations and control of how it’s always been done? Letting go of that perfect picture in your head of what life should look like for yourself? Offering our time and lives to be in service to others? Saying yes to the hard things He asks of us? AND inviting Jesus into the process? Trusting even deeper in your inner being that He is there for you?
Yep, that can be a journey.
It’s a journey I’m ready for.
A time to cleanse the old ideas. A time to be refreshed by the one who refreshes.
Are you ready too? I encourage you to take some time and consider what you may let go of so that you receive the grace He desires to pour into the empty space.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him,
so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Rom 15:13)