So it’s been Lent for about a week now. Yes, I guess today makes it one official week. Growing up Catholic we always celebrated Lent. I think its kinda cool how other evangelical churches are starting to practice the self-discipline of Lenten sacrifice. My husband said Lent was a foreign concept to him growing up Protestant. When we were first dating he gave up meat with me and I think his family just thought it was the dumbest thing ever, at least that is the vibe I remember getting. When our daughter was 3 or 4 she gave up potato chips and we were out somewhere with his mother and I reminded her she had given up chips. His mom gave me an eye roll. I understand Lent can be a foreign concept to some people and that’s all right. Just because someone else doesn’t understand something I do isn’t really a good reason to stop doing it. As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to believe educating people about why we love God is probably better than rolling our eyes back at them or writing them off. Actually, if you are a Christian, God made it pretty clear you are supposed to share Him with others through loving them, though that can be incredibly difficult at times.
During Lent, if you are Roman Catholic, which I am, we practice, 40 days of , Almsgiving, Sacrifice and Prayer. It’s a discipline designed to have us pause and consider the incredible gift God gave to us in His son Jesus, who loved us so much, He paid the ultimate price for our sins, instead of us. Some people think you can earn your way into heaven by being really good or trying to be. Some people think they don’t need God’s grace, either because they don’t believe in God or because they think just being a good person is “good enough”. The bible is pretty clear both those views are wrong. I’m not a relativist. I don’t believe that some things are true for me but not for others. I believe that Truth exists and you find that truth in the person of Jesus Christ. I believe all people can find truth in Jesus. Back to Lent.
We always practice giving something up but its not so we can get into heaven and it’s not because we are afraid of being punished if we don’t. It is to practice the discipline of self-control. Self-Control is a fruit of the spirit and you can make your self-control stronger by practicing it. Really, lets be honest, who couldn’t use a little more self-control? I know I can! Lent is a great time to practice this gift of the Holy Spirit. So, yes, we usually give up a food item or something we actually enjoy because it helps remind us that these next 40 days are different, they are special. God set them aside for us to remember Him in a special way.
We practice prayer together as a family, sometimes we will say a daily rosary, although we have’t started that yet but we do enjoy attending the Stations of the Cross, which I highly recommend, even if you aren’t Catholic, they are a beautiful prayer, a beautiful way to remember God’s gift and sacrifice. Almsgiving. We try to pay more attention than we might usually to those around us who could use our services somehow, maybe its a visit or a meal, time is really a valuable gift to give to others, so we try to be more open to opportunities during this time and opportunities never fail to show up, whether its visiting an elderly friend or taking a meal to a friend who just had surgery or whatever presents itself.
We also read more. We picked a book to read by Mathew Kelly, The Biggest Lie in Christianity. So far we like it and it has a daily video we watch that goes along with the book.
I really look forward to Lent every year. It’s an opportunity to slow down and really consider how I’m living my life, if my priority is always God or if I just try to squeeze Him in here and there to the bits of my life that I have left for Him. If I’m honest, its more the later.
So that’s Lent in our household. If you don’t practice the discipline of Lent, I encourage you to learn more about it and try it. It’s not about giving up chocolate, its’ about what the giving up represents. It’s not some “hokey religious practice” devoid of any place in a modern world.
Practicing Lent doesn’t make you a “religious” or a “spiritual” person. In fact, I really don’t like it when someone calls me religious or spiritual. It’s become a derogatory description lately. Like I’m somehow less of a person because I NEED a God no one can see or touch. Maybe believing in a God that no one can see or touch, makes me more than one dimensional? If this life is all you are living for, maybe you are the one with the lack of vision and not me? Just a thought…
Practicing lent makes you a person who believes God can do a work in you when you focus on Him and the grace and mercy He has shown us in the gift that IS, not was, but IS His son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. I encourage you to get to know Him, 47 years and I’m still learning about Him everyday, his mercies and grace amaze me everyday.
Today, for Lent…I Give Thanks!
Praised Be Jesus Christ…Now and Forever!