Lent: commemorating Jesus’ life and suffering, His 40 days in the wilderness in preparation for His ministry, joining Him in that suffering, reflecting on all that is Jesus and our life in Him
Fasting or giving something up – what’s the purpose?
To use the time, energy and resources that would normally be spent on or used to do that thing that we have given up, we can use to:
- reflect on God and His person, His love and work
- offer to God this moment as sacred
- use this moment, this time, to imitate Jesus – to give to and serve others
So, what can I do?
I may skip a meal, a snack or abstain from a certain food or type of food that means something to me.
“Great, I can do that! But, what do I do with this?”
- use the time that you would have prepped for and eaten the meal to read, pray and reflect
reflect on what, you might ask… well
- God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Who they are, what they have done, what they may be doing and what is to come!
- how much He, God, loves us
- in the context of lent, we may want to ponder upon what Jesus was willing to go through for us
- to consider how we might serve someone else, make a plan, and then, do it!
like what? Well, like…
- taking whatever money I would have spent on this meal or activity and give it to a food pantry or missional ministry
- taking whatever time I would have used on such an endeavor to perform an act of service or to give that time to church and charity
Here’s something else…
It might be that I choose to abstain from watching, playing or listening to certain types or amounts of entertainment.
- First, for many of us, this type of self-denial is as difficult, if not more so, than fasting from food.
- Next, this might allow us to be less distracted while giving us a little extra time to devote to considering the season (of lent) and Who and what it represents.
How might I use this time?
- reading scripture, prayer and reflecting on God and His work
- serving someone or somewhere
- giving time, energy, resources in ways that I may not otherwise
Here’s what’s so cool…
We can use the pain of suffering (hunger pangs, urges and cravings; temptations, and even moments of boredom) as reminders to pray, praise and reflect, offering these moments as little sacrifices of praise and thanks for all God is and does – His person and provision
The key is not merely that we “give something up” but what we do with the time provided by the giving
The blessing of lent is taking the time, making the effort, to intentionally focus on God, our relationship with Him, and becoming more like Him – and sometimes the best way to do this is give and serve – Him and others – this is Lent.
Now, Let us be careful how we approach this time and what we do, and what we choose to do – Lent is not to be merely a time of austere discipline where we impose rules upon ourselves that can potentially heap guilt upon us if we somehow fall short or fall behind in what we had planned to do, but instead it should be seen as a time to invest in a relationship, to deepen our appreciation of the One who loves us so much as to do what He has done for reveal and convey to us His love – and to focus on that. We do this by giving ourselves the time and opportunity to concentrate on that love and the One who loves us so.
This is Lent.