Here we have another instalment in the exciting Rainy Day Mondays series. This is an opportunity for me to pull something out of the archives, either an old post from my blog or another blog, and to re-post it for fresh consideration.
This week we will be doing something slightly different: This is not strictly from a blog, nor is it strictly an old post. Some friends of mine started a facebook group called The Lent Challenge, which is going very well. It is an opportunity to get ideas for performing “totally senseless acts of niceness in the name of the Lord” during Lent. However even if you are not observing lent this year, it doesn’t mean you can’t join and be nice anyway. :-)
Well one of those good friends, Cherolyn Amery, posted a wonderful comment on the first day. It was kind of an introduction to lent, and possibly a new way of looking at it for some people.
Some thoughts about lent…
Most of us know about all about lent: a 40-day period in the church calendar leading up to the big Easter Sunday celebrations. I immediately connect it with giving something up, denying myself some pleasure in a way to grow spiritually. I have tried to "do lent" many times, and honestly, have only succeeded (made it all the way through lent without giving in to my cravings!) a few times. And every time I messed it up, I felt guilty and berated myself for being a spiritual wimp.
I was thinking about lent this weekend and trying to figure out for myself what the whole point of it actually is. If lent is about self-denial, it's not exactly joyous and pleasant. So what's the benefits? My immediate thoughts ran to the idea that somehow it earned us "God brownie points"... that God is impressed when we are especially disciplined and self-denying for Him.
And then I picked up a book (The Ragamuffin Gospel) and idly stumbled across something on a page that hit me smack between the eyes as I was thinking about lent. It said that there is nothing that we can ever do to make God love us more.
I know it's a simple truth. But suddenly I realised that "doing lent" is never going to make God think more of us. It's not going to get us any closer to Heaven. It's not going to make God love us more. All of that is already sorted for all of us, without question or exception. Whether or not we "do lent", God loves us exactly the same.
And yet lent can be a time of change. It won't change how God feels about us, but it has the potential to change us, and grow our relationship with God as we choose to set aside something of the world for 40 days and pursue Him a bit more, or to focus on Him as our deepest need.
The 40 day period is intended to reflect the 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness, where He faced and overcame Satan's tempting. But I also like two other 40s in connection to lent: the 40 years of the Israelites travelling to the Promised Land, and the 40 days that Moses spent up on Mount Sinai in the presence of God. My hope for myself and all of you this lent is that we would be incredibly blessed as we journey with God and pursue more of His presence...
Don’t forget to leave a comment in the comment section below, and if you are also taking part in Rainy Day Monday then put a link to your RDM post either in the comment section, or in the Mister Linky Widget (if it is working).