I’ve never given Lent much thought. For some reason, I know not why, I’ve thought it an outdated practice that Catholics observe. Typically, it appeared to be reduced to “what are you giving up for Lent?” In my overly judgemental moments I found it strange that apparently non-pious people chose to participate in such a “custom”.
As some of you may know, I observed Advent last Christmas and found it a wonderful practice in drawing closer to the Lord each day. I love learning and discovered so much in those 20 or so days. This led me to my word of the year, “Silence” and an increasing desire for intimacy with the Lord.
A few weeks ago, the Lord gave me one of those gentle nudges that got me thinking about Lent. At the same time, I noticed a Lent study by Ruth Haley Barton, whose book, “Invitation to Solitude and Silence: Experiencing God’s Transforming Presence” I so enjoyed when I read it last month. So I promptly ordered that study.
Margaret Feinberg who’s “Wonderstruck” I also read last month, mentioned she was planning something exciting for Lent. So I was hooked.
“’And yet even now,’ says the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart …’” (Joel 2:12)
I read that verse on the weekend and have been saying it repeatedly since. This is my desire: to return to Him with all my heart. I’m hoping these next six weeks will help me along the journey of heart transformation.
What is Lent?
Well I didn’t know until today.
Ruth’s study arrived yesterday and gave me some lovely insight that Lent “derives its structure and themes from Christ’s forty days’ in the wilderness, where He fasted and prayed and faced Satan’s temptations.”1 Okay, didn’t know that.
I particularly loved Ann Voskamp description in a post that arrived in my email over night.
Ann’s chatting to her brother on the phone answering his question:
“Okay … Lent. It’s the preparing the heart for Easter. Like going with Jesus into the wilderness for forty days, that we come face to ugly face with our enemy. Our sacrificing that we might become more like Christ in His sacrifice.”
So it’s the letting go of our stuff, whatever that may be, so we’ll be even more desperate for Jesus to fill us.
Ha. I like that.
Besides the study I referred to above, I’ve also joined Margaret’s “Wonderstruck by Scripture” tribe where, with an equal measure of excitement and trepidation, I’m reading the entire Bible in 40 days. Armed with Margaret’s daily plan, 6 days (yay, get the Sabbath off, phew!) I’m doing something I’ve never done. There are still some books of the Bible I’ve never read completely, ah, Leviticus, here I come, so this will be a challenge. Margaret proposed The Message version, which I’m looking forward to, as I don’t use it much.
(I’ve got a hunch I’ll be using Sunday to catch up, but shush, don’t tell Margaret!)
What am I giving up?
Besides sleep so I can get through 50+ pages of the Word each day? Ha!
I’ve been praying about this for a few days and realised how I’ve allowed myself to become too undisciplined in some of my daily practices. I can get easily distracted in my times with the Lord plus I haven’t got myself back into my writing groove, which I need to, and so I’m giving up “undisciplined activity.” Sounds stupid, huh? I’m a disciplined person in most aspects of my life but increasingly I’ve become lackadaisical which limits both my time with the Lord and my work practices.
So I’m firstly, spending more time on planning each day, and then sticking to the plan as much as I can. I expect there will be some days I fast the internet and/or social media which can be real time vacuums for me.
As with Advent, I’ll write a post each week sharing my discoveries, insights and anything else I think may be of interest to you.
But tell me, what are you doing for Lent?
Notes: 1. Lent, A Season of Returning, Ruth Haley Barton, Transforming Resources, Week 1