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If you have read my blog over this past month, you know that I am currently participating in the LoveBlog challenge hosted by Brita Long. Each day there is a prompt for a topic to blog about. Today’s topic is spirituality. As today is the first day of Lent, I thought I’d focus on the spiritual practice of this season. You can read my previous LoveBlog posts here.
I didn’t grow up in a church tradition where Lent played a big role. I have never been to church on Ash Wednesday or lived much differently during the weeks leading up to Easter than in any other time of the year.
My guiding word for 2020 is Rhythm (you can read more about my practice of choosing a word for each year here). Rhythm for me has a lot to do with daily rhythms of spending time in God’s presence as well as weekly rhythms of observing a Sabbath rest.
But I also chose the word rhythm as I am craving to live more in the rhythms God gives. For example, being more aware of the seasons within nature. I want to appreciate the beauty of winter, spring, summer and autumn. Further, I want to respect them in the way I consume, and learn about nature’s restrictions and cycles.
More importantly, I want to inhibit the church’s calendar.
Lauren F. Winter writes the following in the foreword to Bobby Gross’ book ‘Living the Christian year’:
“I want the Christian story to shape everything I do, even how I reckon time.(…) Jesus drew my attention to himself, and the church calendar has kept it fixed there — on him. Church time has offered me the chance to reprise and reiterate Jesus’ life every year.”
Lent is an opportunity to do this exactly.
It is not about following a legalistic framework of rules. When I googled lent I found a lot of questions asking “can I have Sunday as a cheat day during lent?” I believe that is the wrong question.
The right question is “what practices, what disciplines, what sacrifices might help me to draw closer to Jesus over the next 40 days?”
The practice of fasting reminds us of our physical needs and the fact that our bodies are fallible. Lent is an invitation to remember our own mortality. Further, sacrificing food or something else highlights our selfishness and how sinful we are.
Our mortality and sinfulness aren’t the most cheerful things to dwell on, but we dwell on them with the perspective of Easter.
Eternal life has been won for us. Our earthly bodies will die but we will be resurrected with Christ. Our hearts are corrupted by sin but we are forgiven, made new and the righteousness of Christ covers us.
So what could lent look like practically?
Well, this is pretty much up to you.
A good idea might be to pray and to ask Holy Spirit to highlight any areas you might want to focus on.
Take an honest look at your life: Do you use alcohol to deal with problems? Do you cope with an emotional day by consuming lots of sugar? Do you rely on coffee to be energised? Maybe you could cut out these things and instead make the decision to turn to your Heavenly Father. He has promised to provide for you, he gives you rest and fills you with new strength.
Maybe you want to try out doing a complete fast. Or you want to cut out watching TV. You might feel stirred to spend more time in Scripture. Maybe you want to cut out Starbucks coffee and give the saved money to someone in need.
Pick a practice not so you can tick a box but so you can make more room for Jesus in your life. Don’t beat yourself up if you ‘missed a day’ or ‘slipped up’. As mentioned before, we are fallible. But we are coming to a God who is full of grace.
One of the things I am planning to do during lent this year is to read Beth Moore’s book “Believing God”. So far I have read the introduction in which she recommends some very practical actions, for example proclaiming the truth of who God is and who he made us. Over the next 40 days I want to make these proclamations about God’s faithfulness and immerse myself in the truth that he is trustworthy.
I am planning to share a bit of what I am learning over on instagram. If you want to grow in your faith this year, why don’t you join me? I would love to hear your thoughts as well and spur each other on to believe God and all that he promises us.
Do you observe lent normally? What has your experience been with it so far?