I embrace the Lenten season. Encouraged to turn my attention from the world which tried to bury me young, I shift focus toward Jesus Christ who saved me. He does that; victory over death. Through Lent I get to take time for intentional living honoring who Jesus was, what Jesus did, how Jesus died, that Jesus IS.
Proverbs 15:8 "The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him."
I pray daily anyway. However, throughout the Lenten season I elect to pray specifically for a person, a place, a concern, for myself. This prayerful practice during Lent is different than usual. I am mindful of the atmosphere within which I pray; both somber and celebratory. Lent invites me to keenly observe and acknowledge the paradox of Christianity, Jesus dead and among us, Jesus ascended and near, Jesus Lamb and Savior. Lent affords me awareness of praying in such a space - BOTH AND.
Matthew 6:16 "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."
For years I would fast from a food or a beverage (hoping to shed a few pounds too). I stopped messing with such "sacrifices;" ironically I became more aware of myself than Jesus. When I would fast from a food I felt myself playing a game of sorts and I wrestled with pride thinking myself somehow better than another who continued to consume what I had nobly put down (for Jesus' sake). Since discovering I personally could not handle such an approach to Lent, I've taken to fasting from what robs me of quality or creative time. I surrender a time-use habit for a time-enhancing practice. Some Lenten seasons I've journaled more when I otherwise would watch a show. Other Lenten seasons I've made phone calls to friends and family when I would otherwise keep to myself. Lent is such a personal journey, I discover that no matter what I fast the temptation of self, vanity, pride, resistance, and giving up remains. Fasting requires my conscious dependence on Jesus; yay!
Luke 5:32 "I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
Before Christ snatched me from the edge of hell, I loathed the term "sinner." What a nasty, unbecoming term to an unbeliever. I totally embrace the term sinner now, gratefully. I credit my reality as a sinner for keeping me desperately engaged with Christ daily, like an ongoing conversation Jesus nudging me, "Whoa!" Tempted, I plead "Help!" I humbly navigate Lent with a spirit of gratitude, but not guilt. My sin-nature is a gift not for my indulgence, but for my admission that I am completely at His mercy. Of course!
Proverbs 25:28 "Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control."
Wreckage, the absence of self-control. For six weeks of the Lenten season can I not abide by the speed limit? What about showing up on time (discipline would be my friend to this end)? For six weeks can I commit to eight hours of sleep each night? What about turning from a task to face the person who is speaking to me? Self-control for the sake of consistent grace; a lovely manner in which to honor Jesus, prepare for Easter.
Galatians 5:22 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness."
Faithful to the faith. Faithful to Jesus. Lent demands from me best-practice. Lent demands of me my best-self. Lent demands that I quiet all that distracts me from my Savior. Lent demands that I consider someone or something other than myself. Lent demands that I admit I am lost without Jesus finding me each moment, that I admit I will die without His life within my life. My sole complaint about this annual Christian ritual is that it is only six weeks long. Preparation for celebration of Christ's victory over death is my privilege, my honor, my luxury.
Prayer, fasting, repentance, self-control, and faithfulness this Lenten season, enjoy!