This might seem odd to you, but I didn’t grow up in a church that talked about Lent. And as I got older, all I ever heard about Lent was what people were “giving up” – and that was usually followed by a mention of, well, chocolate.
In fact, for fun I just googled “lent,” and close to the top of the search was an article that shared 101 things we should consider giving up for Lent. (Yes, it was just a list with no small talk.) Some of you will be glad to hear that chocolate was all the way down at #100. And the top five were 1) being hungover, 2) buying fruit to make smoothies then watching it sadly rot, 3) not replying to text messages, 4) hashtags, and 5) ironic hashtags. #iwonderifthiscounts
So if you grew up Lent-less like I did, and heard similar conversations with no explanation, then it just didn’t make a lot of sense. At least not in a way that had anything to do with God.
This past Sunday, I appreciated this comment by the pastor regarding Lent:
“Lent isn’t just about saying no to something. It’s about saying yes to Jesus.”
I love that, because it obviously points people to the true focus of the season – Jesus – and not just temporary self-improvement.
Our response to Lent shouldn’t be discipline for discipline’s sake. But our discipline should rise out of the holy aim of embracing the One for whom we should give up our all – the One who gives us light, and grace, and hope, and purpose, and our very life.
It should encourage us to take time to rest in God’s presence, so we might:
~ remember who He is and what He’s done (and still doing) for us
~ press in to hear His words of love, grace, and mercy
~ repent from sin and cooperate with His Spirit
~ lean into His purposes and guidance
~ rest in His incredible grace and ability to accomplish His work in and through us
~ and yes, prepare to face His cross and celebrate His resurrection
What do we “give up”? Ask Him!
Make it part of your rest and leaning-in to ask God what He wants you to give up for Him – and for how long. Beyond chocolate and hashtags, it might include things like apathy, anger, lack of love, or anything else that stands in the way of knowing and loving God more. (That could be a long list!)
Lent calls for giving things up for the right reason – not just to take a break from a questionable habit, but to allow Jesus His proper place in our lives.
Kind of like what we should be doing every day not called Lent.
Embrace Him. Surrender to Him. Receive from Him. And then offer it all back to Him at His feet in worship.
For He alone is worthy.
“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing” (Revelation 5:12).
Did you grow up observing Lent? How did that look?
Here’s “A Short History of Lent” for those who want to learn more about it!
The Staggering Place of Grace in Our Worship
The Powerful Effect Of Brokenness On Our Worship
Why True Worship Requires Your Surrendered Heart
How should listening to God fit into my worship?
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