Thursday, March 10, 2011

Here's to an Intentional Lenten Season

Fat Tuesday. Ash Wednesday. Lent. Growing up, I had no idea what these words meant. I didn’t understand why my friends didn’t eat meat on Fridays. Even as an adult, I almost told someone they had dirt on their forehead until it dawned on me that it was Ash Wednesday.

As I got older, I inquired of friends as to why they practiced what they did. I learned about all of these days connected to the days leading up to Easter and realized that those who could explain the reasoning behind their actions followed this practice intentionally and with meaning. My attitude towards the Lenten season changed from “Aren’t we supposed to live this way every day anyway?” to “Maybe I should give something up to strengthen my faith and teach me to lean on God a little more during this season.”

I noticed my 8-year-old looking intently at someone with the cross of ashes on their forehead yesterday. As we were driving in the car, I thought I would use the moment to educate her on something I didn’t understand until I was an adult. After explaining to her about Ash Wednesday and Lent, she had a question.


“Yes, Nikelle.”

“What is the best kind of gum to blow a bubble with?”

My husband and I just laughed. I suppose we aren’t always ready to receive the lessons we are taught.

“That’s a blog post right there,” my husband stated.

“What? Where?” our 5-year-old Jaycie wanted to know what she was missing out on. Laughting at the situation, I listened to my 2-year-old demand more gum and continued to contemplate the season of Lent.

While I am supposed to daily take up my cross, deny myself and follow Christ, I don’t always do that. I think Lent could be an intentional season to prepare my heart for remembering the reason behind Christ’s death and the celebration of His resurrection. What I have learned is that whatever I decide to give up (or possibly even add to my life) during this season, it needs to be intentional. There needs to be a desire to lean on God and deepen my relationship with Him. I cannot follow this practice because a church tells me to or because everyone else is doing it. Rather it should be entered into with the same mindset of a fast. For a season, I will step up my commitment to God to remind me that I can never give up enough for Him.

When someone has given their life for me, I can never show my gratitude enough. I can continue to offer up offerings in an effort to display my thankfulness but I will always be in His debt and forever grateful. I think there is something to be said for the practice of Lent. Maybe as a reminder of how we should live every day. What are your thoughts?

“Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?” ~ Luke 9:23-25

(I was also contemplating the practice of declaring to others what we give up for lent. “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:16-18) The only reason I can figure for declaring this then would be for accountability. Therefore, it should be intentional when shared not just a declaration for the purpose of the season.)

1 comment:

  1. Your scripture passage from Luke was the same exact passage that was use for my daily devotional from Church. Today's devotional also said we should fast because we have a hunger that only God can fill. The final point in what I read today was "Lord, may my hunger and self-denial always draw me to you."