Lent is a shortened form of an Old English word which means nothing more than spring. When I think of Spring I think of spring cleaning, fresh new flowers, and new life. We put away the old and put on the new. Lent is NOT just a Catholic thing, as many other faiths celebrate the Lenten season as well.
I don't know about you, but one week or even two weeks just doesn't cut it for me. I have to stick with something much longer than a week for it to be a lifelong change. The Lord in his ultimate wisdom knew the magic number was about forty days.
Remember Moses spent forty days on Mount Sinai. Forty days of rain came down to Noah and his family. The Hebrew people wondered forty days in the desert to the promised land. It is recorded in tradition that Jesus lay forty hours in the tomb before rising from the dead after his Crucifixion.
Jesus spent forty days in the desert according to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. While the Lord Jesus was divine on the inside, he still had the outward struggles of a man. He had some of the same temptations, but he was able to overcome them. He was God, perfect, and without sin. While we will never be perfect, will always have sin, and struggle with sin, Jesus did give us a perfect picture of how to overcome our struggles.
He knew what we would go through from day to day. So while he was in the desert, he fasted, prayed, and prepared himself for his ministry and the great sacrifice he would make for us on the cross. The time he spent in that desert place made him stronger and I have no doubt helped him conquer the wiles of the devil.
I have to say the first time I acknowledged Lent I was more worried about what I would give up and if I could follow it through. This year I have come to understand the true meaning of Lent and its great spiritual value in ones walk with the Lord Jesus.
Lent is like a spiritual inward cleaning process. It is a time of reflection set aside each day to look at what I can change to do better such as drawing closer to God, my family, and possibly making some big changes that have held me back or caused me pain in my everyday life.
We set aside many holidays, birthdays and other events acknowledging their value in our lives... why not Lent?
When ones decides to give up something for Lent, it should be something that will be replaced with something of value such as striving to develop a more intimate relationship with God or showing more kindness towards others. If we give up our favorite TV show and replace it with a devotional time, then that is a good thing. If we give up our TV show and do nothing....then we have just missed out on our favorite TV show.
Giving up chocolate really doesn't mean anything....So I have given up chocolate! Yeah for me! Truly...does it hold any value towards my spiritual walk with God? I gave up peanut butter my first go round. I loved peanut butter! I thought I was doing this great thing. Little did I know there was so much more to Lent than giving up peanut butter.
Many decide to fast during Lent. Fasting to me is such a personal thing. I do not think the world needs to know I am fasting. Some may fast a day or some a little longer.
If I decided to go on a fast, but I walked around in a gloomy state, and hoped others would pat me on the back for fasting, then the process of fasting would have lost its meaning. It was still focused on my own ego or my needed accolades.
Lent is a time of repentance, which means we can ask for forgiveness and believe it is finished. We do not have to carry those heavy burdens any longer.
Lent reminds us to Let It Go!
It is a time of prayer, when we allow ourselves to grow closer to the Lord and drown out the things that get in our way. We may learn to give of ourselves more to others and lastly develop a spirit of self-denial.
We as a society do not like discomfort and heaven forbid we deny ourselves anything.
We WANT WANT WANT and WANT IT NOW NOW NOW!
Maybe 40 days of Lent will bring about a new humbleness concerning our lives and how we treat others.
I am thankful for the opportunity to celebrate Lent in my own life.
May the Lord bless you and keep you always.