by Karen Coombes
I always thought Lent was just for Catholics. I understood it to be a time of giving up something, though I wasn’t really sure why. Meat was the common sacrifice in my childhood days. Many a Friday I ate fish sticks in the school cafeteria never realizing that the celebration the Catholics were enjoying was for all Christians.
Until I got an email from Jena in early 2019, I hadn’t given much thought to Lent. There was one sentence in her email that jumped out at me – “Lent helps us number our days in wisdom as we seek God and choose to be in His presence through our conscious choice to live differently during the symbolic 40 days of wilderness that gives way to the celebration of Christ’s life-giving sacrifice on Easter”. That intrigued me. Numbering my days in wisdom… seeking God… choosing to be in His presence… choosing to live differently… celebrating Christ’s life-giving sacrifice on Easter… I want to do all these things!!
So I clicked and read the post – Lent 101. I don’t know if it was my own mind at work, but my guess is that it was God nudging me. This Lent thing was something I had to pursue. I felt like God wanted all those things for me, too.
I sought out friends for support and accountability and picked out a book for a guide. Sheila, Coralie, and I committed to the observation of Lent and to one another, and on March 6th we started reading a book by Alicia Britt Chole titled, “40 Days of Decrease – A Different Kind of Hunger. A Different Kind of Fast”. In the prologue she shares what she calls The Grand Reduction, where she found Jesus. The book echoes that concept, of reduction, throughout the book. We must decrease so that Christ may increase."He must increase, but I must decrease." John 3:30 Click To Tweet
Rather than sacrifice any one thing for 40 days, each day we sacrificed an earthly illusion or a sin of addition. Things like regrets, collecting praise, avoidance, stinginess, spectatorship, appearances, denial, comparison, discontentment, criticism, escapism and even fasting. Yes, we fasted fasting! Even fasting can be a sin if it’s a legalistic undertaking instead of an act of love. As the author said – “The surrender of our souls is more important than the sacrificing of stuff.”
Lent was, and each year from now on, will be, for me, a time to change gears, to put aside the busyness, to slow down and make time to focus on the life, death, and resurrection of Christ and all that means to me. A time to be still, and hear Him, and feel Him, and to better know Him. To rest in Him and in the hope and promise I have in Him. There is so much truth in James 4:8, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”
It’s been a few months now since we celebrated Easter. Sheila, Coralie and I drove out to a hilltop that morning. As we watched the horizon for the light of a new day I thought about how the world changed on that morning 2,000+ years ago. Sin was defeated. The blood of The Lamb covered mankind for all time. Jesus rose from the grave to conquer death. Our God, your God, my God, did that for us. Wow!!
Learn more about Lent by clicking here to read Lent: 101.