Lent: A Wondrous Invitation
Updated: Jan 8
I've often thought about the things people "give up" for Lent, and what motivates them to do those things.
Some approach Lent a bit like an annual diet, or a new year's resolution, or a challenge that they know, if they can get through it, will be good for them. It's doable - a short period of time, usually not too inconvenient , and nets nice results. Others lay ridiculously hard elements into their discipline and, at the end of the day, pat themselves on the back in a self congratulatory manner, "You did it! Good for you!
And God sits up there cheering you on, "Yay! Good for you! I'm glad you did it, too!"
And at the end of the day, when the dust settles and we're sitting on our back porches on Easter Day wondering why we don't sense God's presence any closer to us than we were before we started our Lenten discipline, it's hard not to wonder, Was this all about me?
Lent isn't a season of creating hoops to jump through and occasionally making it (if your lucky) - a time to test ones personal discipline to see if the "old ticker" is still ticking, nor is it a self-help promotional, or a "be all you can be" personal improvement program.
For Christians, Lent is a time to invite God into the homes of our hearts and give him free reign to rearrange the anything misplaced, misprioritized, and even to move around the furniture if he desires. Our chosen disciplines provide the doorway for that to happen.
In other words, Lent is nothing we do and everything he does. If this ancient season of the Church doesn't provide living interactive opportunity between us and him, it becomes no better than all those other religious things we used to do back in the day that actually kept us away from him in the first place.
He called us, he fashions us, and he prepares us through the power of his love. Lent is not a time to boast in our discipline, or to make us stronger. It is a time for God to infuse his grace moreso into our life. Grace is the stuff of Lent.
Once in the house God - make no mistake - he sees the state of his temple. He knows where to start, the things that really need attentions, and knows what it will look like come Easter Sunday. He cleanses, blows out cobwebs, polishes corrosion off the candlesticks, freshens the water in the laver, and so on.
Once he gets in the building, it's up to him what happens, not us.
So this season let's not run the relentlessly race with the empty tomb in our sites and come hell or high water" we'll make it to the finish line. Not let us pat ourselves on the back for getting to Easter with minimal pain. This type of mentality feeds the fodder for greed, pride, boasting, and gluttony on the other side.
How about this? Instead of giving up alcohol, candy, or even fun time for the sake of Bible study, worship, or church attendance (which are great things in themselves, yet deadly if undertaken as works or righteousness), why not make the "what we do" of Lent be an open invitation for God to step into the temple of our hearts and just take it from there? Believe me, once he's in he knows what to do, what to suggest, perhaps on a streaming, moment by moment, basis. As he moves and arranges, polishes and trashes, simply go along with it, agreeing with His well-intended agenda for the dispositions of your heart for 40 days.
Then, when Easter finally rolls around (and it will), the tomb will be cleaned, ready to be filled with the blessed Spirit who raises us all into a transformed life.