Why in the world do we talk about Lent anyway?

Many churches have stopped making much of this season of preparation but I’ve always found it a blessing to slow down a little and prayerfully think about all Jesus has graciously done for me through his life, death, and resurrection.

I see comments out there from people who are giving something up as a way of fasting, not as a diet or to better the environment (I understand there’s a push to give up plastic this year), but as a way to consider what Jesus may have felt as he lived out 40 Days of fasting in the wilderness.

And actively taking on some small form of self-sacrifice as a way of remembering Jesus’ far greater sacrifice can be a beautiful way of drawing closer to Jesus.

However…

For the past few years, I’ve chosen to add rather give up. So I make a plan each Lenten season to intentionally spend even more time in prayer and Bible study than I do throughout the rest of the year.

Why?

Because I want to use this time to reflect on being humble, repentant, and grateful for Jesus gracious sacrifice that saved me.

And I also want to use it as a time of anticipation.

Not just the anticipation of remembering and celebrating Jesus’ “Easter” resurrection, but as a time of heartfelt preparation for His glorious promised return.

So what is Lent for me?

It’s living in awe and wonder at God’s amazing grace, underserved mercy, and unfailing love! The reasons that bring me to my knees in humble repentance, reflection, and anticipation.

So I’m praying today and asking God to fill me with his Spirit and to draw me closer to Jesus.

Most of all, I’m praying that he will help me love him more and more each day.

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him.

John 3:16–17

Father, your love is evident in everything. In the past … the present … and the future. It is most evident through your Son, Jesus. He told us how very much you love us … and then, he showed us by sacrificing everything for us.

Please, by the power of your Spirit, help me keep my heart and mind focused on all I have been given through the gift of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. And help me live each day in humble service, overwhelmed with gratitude for all you have done for me through him. Amen.

The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

Psalm 51:17

And Father, all you ask in response to this amazing sacrificial gift is the offering of a humble heart, broken in repentance. I can’t earn this gift. There is nothing I can say or do. So, I come to you today to say,

I am so very sorry. I am self-righteous, prideful, and impatient. I’m not as kind and compassionate as you want me to be. Each day there are countless things I fail to do that I should and just as many things I do that I shouldn’t … all ways I fall short of your will for me. Father, please forgive me and by your grace, help me to change. Amen.

[Jesus] opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And He said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of His name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’”

Luke 24:45–47

Father, you promised a Savior, a Messiah, who would suffer my punishment as soon as sin entered your perfect world.

I love that Jesus spoke these words to his disciples after his resurrection … after your promise had been fulfilled.

You keep all your promises. I can trust every Word you’ve given and count on your faithfulness to forgive my sins.

Wow! No matter how often I come to you. You remove my sins and wash me clean. I am humbled and grateful. And yet, words of gratitude don’t seem like enough. So I give you my surrendered heart. Amen.

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

Jesus, some days are just hard! You said there would be trials and sorrows and you knew what you were talking about. You lived through unimaginable trials and sorrows because of your great love for me.

So I can be confident that when you told us to “take heart.” You were telling us to be encouraged and hopeful because of who you are and what you’ve done. And because I belong to you, the One who has defeated the enemy and overcome the world.

Lord, you not only give me peace, you are my peace. You are my hope. You are my Way, Truth, and Life. Thanks and praise forever. Amen.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then He said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And He also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End.”

Revelation 21:4–6

And this is the hope I have, Father. Whatever today brings, I know that my Redeemer lives. He lives with and within me reminding me of your promises, calming my fears, and filling me with your love. He is making all things new! He is the Beginning and the End, my Savior, my Always!

Father, thank you! Please help me keep my heart and mind focused on Jesus and all he has done for me. And help me spend every moment of my life serving you in humble gratitude for your grace, mercy, and undeserved love. Amen.

And one final closer to Jesus thought from Dietrich Bonhoeffer…

“Self-denial means knowing only Christ, and no longer oneself. It means seeing only Christ, who goes ahead of us, and no longer the path that is too difficult for us… . Self-denial is saying only: He goes ahead of us; hold fast to him.”

Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash