Lent is 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter(not counting the Sabbaths, which are “mini-celebrations” of Easter, and our lives are already focused on God those days). Throughout scripture, we see examples of God using the number 40 with His people. Check out the Wikipedia article, so I don’t have to copy and paste it.
All of that to jump to today. What do we do for Lent? Growing up, a few Catholic friends of mine would show up to school on Ash Wednesday with a cross on their forehead. They’d compare and the darkest/largest one would win. These were also the guys who would talk about getting drunk on weekends. So I didn’t really care to ask them about their spiritual practices. A few of us would give up something like chocolate or pop for lent, and poke fun at each other and pretend to be suffering for Jesus for 40 days.
In college, I’m thankful to have had a pastor who loved the Church calendar, and got his congregation involved in it. I learned the heritage we share in this long-celebrated time of preparation for Easter. The things I’d “give up” became more important to me, less important to my social life, and my Spiritual life really would get a shot in the arm. Combining pastoral guidance with the theology courses I was taking in college….I loved this time of year. Reminding myself that from ashes I came, and shall return…and the same with the world I invest myself in.
Being no great theologian or Mega-church leader…just a guy who says “this is really good for me, and I think you should try it!” I would challenge you, my 10 readers, to celebrate this Lent season with the Church also. Find something you can fast from, that is difficult (but not life threatening)…that also gives space in your life for God. Use that time to be with Him…and serve Him.
Let a few others know how you are fasting, not to brag or moan…but for accountability and to encourage them. I will be giving up movies and books (except the Bible) this year, thanks to my brother Larry – who asked me casually “How do you watch so many movies and read so many books?”. I do spend quite a bit of time/effort doing these two things, and look forward to what their absence for a while leads to.
“And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”