Lent begins today with Ash Wednesday. As I write this, I still smell of anointing oil and ashes. I’ve been an “imposition” this morning! As each person who came to receive ashes knelt…and I reminded them of what ashes symbolized in the scriptures (repentance) and then also reminded them of what oil symbolizes (holiness), I was reminded of the tension between the two.
We are born in sin…fallenness….corruption. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. God didn’t want this for us…and yet…we fell for the lie. So for centuries, we’ve tried to remember…remember the reality of who we are…and remember who God wanted us to be. In that vision, of who God created us to be, we turn from who we are (repentance) to who God calls us to be (Holy People). Jesus came to fulfill what we could not and to take on the punishment we deserved. When we recognize that, receive that gift, respond to His love and grace…we begin to see what God wanted in the first place.
But it’s a journey isn’t it! Lent is this way…a process…a journey. Often we “give up something for Lent” as a way of reminding us of the sacrifice of Christ and to remind us that when we desire whatever we gave up, Jesus gave up His life for us. I’ve personally struggled with “giving up” stuff for Lent. So, I’ve gotten in the habit of adding things. This usually means some kind of discipline I’m not good at. I’ve also discovered that in “adding” I also have to “give up” something to make the “adding” possible. This wasn’t intentional! It was an unintended consequence. Maybe I should have just settled for giving up!
Personally, I’ve always struggled with Lent. Maybe that’s the point! Some years…I’ve just given up the struggle and tried to focus on the gift of grace Jesus offers me. Maybe that’s also a point of Lent! It’s really not my “giving up” anything that makes me holy or closer to God. I lived for so much of my life trying to earn God’s love….I’m thankful He gives grace and mercy daily (Lamentations 3:21–23)!
But as we’ve enter into this season, a friend of mine sent me a link to Phil Ressler’s “40 Things To Give Up For Lent”. As I read his list…I thought…”now here’s something that would change my life if I took this seriously!” I mean, I’ve given up TV, desserts, etc….but I’ve always gone back to them and honestly, Lent…well, after it’s gone….it’s impact fades quickly and I’m still left with the same old “me”. So, this Lent…may I suggest something?
Eat Chocolate! Eat Dessert!
Do…whatever it is you were thinking you’d like to give up! And instead try this list! THIS list…is heart work….life transformational work. I’m pretty sure that’s what Lent was supposed to be….transformational!
Here’s what I’m going to try and do….I’m going to try and write a blog post for each one for the forty days! Let’s take this journey together and seek something more than just some 40 day religious observance! Let’s try and pursue God’s heart for us….transformation for us! May His grace and mercy…His love inspire us!