Lenten Season

The season of lent is upon us, and again I’m reminded that God doesn’t want my chocolate; He wants ME.

Lent, in Christian tradition, is the period of the liturgical year leading up to Easter. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer — through prayer, penitence, almsgiving and self-denial — for the annual commemoration during Holy Week of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the events linked to the Passion of Christ and culminates in Easter, the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. (more at Wikipedia)

So if I’m not giving up chocolate, what exactly is my plan for lenten sacrifice this year?  Here are a few ideas I’ve been kicking around.

Remember and Reflect – Jesus died a horrific, painful, public death.  Death on a cross. For me. God allowed this to happen to his son. For me. The least I can do is take time to remember the sacrifice and reflect on the magnitude.

  • Read. Books that will strengthen and challenge my faith.  (Book ideas welcome!)
  • Pray. Real, meditative, slow prayer that so often gets whisked away with the busyness of each day.
  • Devotions. For the family and for myself.  We’ll have to slow down and prioritize to get this done, which is both a sacrifice and a reward.

Reevaluate – I need more of Him, less of me.  How can I structure my life to make that happen?

  • My time. How am I spending my time?  Is it edifying?  How can I serve others better?  What can go?  (This one is hard for me!  Last year I gave up Facebook and lived to tell about it.  Might need to do that again, among other online time suckers…)
  • My homemaking. If Jesus Came to My House and knocked upon the door… what would he find?  Who would he greet? (Mary or a disheveled, stressed-out Martha?)  He doesn’t expect my home to be perfect, but he does expect me to care for the gifts he’s given me.
  • My relationships. Am I actively present to my children?  (Being home and being present are two totally different things!)  What about my husband?  Am I caring for him and making time with him a priority?  Am I meeting his needs?

Reorganize and Refine – With all that society calls us to be, do, and have, there is little left for what God calls us to be, do, and have.

  • Physical Clutter. I hope to make great strides in the Declutter Challenge during lent, purging stuff that takes up time and space in our home without serving a purpose or giving us pleasure.
  • Mental Clutter. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy— think about such things.”  Phillipians 4:8 I need to post that verse on my forehead during lent.
  • Time Clutter. Again, back to time.  Time is a gift, and I don’t always spend mine wisely.  This needs to change.  The end.

Lent, for me, is not simply a season to “give up” something that I can pick right up as Easter morning dawns.  It’s a time of reflection, of refining, of change.

What is Lent for you?

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Comments

  1. I agree! Simply giving something up as a sacrifice can be empty if it is not done with the intention of becoming more aware of God’s presence in your own life. I hope to grow spiritually this lenten season and look forward to becoming closer to God in my daily life.

  2. Good food for thought, Amy. And action.
    Love, Alicia

  3. I knew we were kindred spirits. I love the “God doesn’t want my chocolate; He wants ME.” I’m always a little perplexed by that Lenten sacrifice. Thanks for making me stop and ask myself these questions today.

  4. This post reminds me of a song we used to sing from our hymnal back in the day. The first verse spoke about how we are “all of me, and none of Him”, then the second verse transitions to “some of me, and some of Him”, and then the final verse declares “all of Him, and none of me.” It’s a really beautiful reminder!

  5. What a beautiful post Amy! You provide a true challenge for us all..to focus on being with God and letting the rest just be.

  6. LOVE IT, LOVE IT, LOVE IT….can I share this?

  7. Thank you for this reminder about what is really important during Lent.

  8. What a wonderful reminder, Lent is so much more than giving up sweets (which is what I usually do). You gave me some wonderful ideas.

  9. I don’t celebrate Lent, but know a number of people who do. I’ve never really understood the whole giving up a thing for a set amount of time, but I really like the idea of reflecting and re-evaluating. Nice post.

  10. Amy…Loved the line: “If Jesus Came to My House” what would he find? Really made me laugh & cringe at the same time. I totally concur that God doesn’t expect our homes to be perfect, but He does expect us to take care of what He has given us. Thanks so much for your thoughts & plans for this time of year! Erin Blair

  11. The book Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne was an absolute game changer for my view of faith and Jesus. I highly recommend it if you’re still looking for something to read during Lent.

    I love your take on this, especially the part about G-d not wanting your chocolate. Lent is so much more than that. Nicely put.

  12. Great thoughts. I’ve been thinking of what I’m going to give up for Lent and have come up with nothing. Maybe I’ll just join you instead, because you’re right God doesn’t want my chocolate.

    A good book (especially for Lent) is Contemplating the Cross by Tricia McCary Rhodes.

  13. Thank you for a wonderful post!!!

  14. Great post, Amy… and, oh, you are so very right– there are worlds of difference between being “home” and being “present”. I need to remember that and keep it ever in the forefront. Thanks for a thought-provoking start to the Lenten season!

  15. Great post Amy! I feel that I have been in that re evaluating phase since December, and I am constantly being called to prune and let things go. A great book I read recently is No Ordinary Home by Carol Jo Brazo. I think you would really enjoy it!

  16. Love this, Amy! And, thanks for the linky love :)

  17. i am new to this site but am glad i found it. i was thinking about this same thing. as all the discussion started about what to give up. i feel are we really understanding what Jesus did for us as we give up soda, sweets, comupter time. because once easter comes we will just pick it up again. Jesus did not have this option because on good friday He gave His life, the ultimate sacrifice! thank you so much for this post. it helped me to realize what is really important during this time in lent.

  18. Amy,
    I don’t observe Lent, but this is what I’m attempting to do in my life. I’m a new stay home mommy, and have too much time on my hands, and haven’t been able to show much for it, like a clean house, closer walk with God or better control over finances.
    My goal for this whole year to to take care of what God’s blessed my family with, by taking good care of it, and paying off our debt. As well as taking a good look at what is really important in life, not what the world says I need to have, own, get, or see…
    Thanks for the extra motivation!!!!!!! God works in ways unknown to us. He gets to me in ways that totally blow me away.

    Thanks,
    Peggy

    • Time management is definitely a challenge as a stay at home mom! Sounds like you’re on the right track. I know I bless my family by saving us (easily!) the same amount I’d make (minus childcare and work expenses) at a job away from home.

  19. Really fabulous post, Amy! These are some great reminders. I know that I have been more apt to add something for Lent, instead of taking away some trivial thing, ever since I was at a church function where someone pointed out that the whole idea is to do something to bring your closer to God. (Or to remove something that takes you away from God.)

  20. A beautiful, challenging post, Amy! :)

  21. Found some Lenten family activities (I, myself, was looking for resources for my family this year) and here are a few good links:
    http://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/library_article/417/40_Ways_to_Get_the_Most_Out_of_Lent.html

    http://www.catholicmom.com/lent.htm

    Great post!!

  22. Grace Belson says:

    Is Lent a Christian observance? Where is that in scripture? I think if people would really think about what they are doing, they would understand that this is just a pagan ritual not rooted in scripture but in tradition. There is no way anything we do can make up for the suffering of The Lord Jesus Christ and it makes a mockery of what He did for us on the cross. We should be thankful every day not just once a year but if you really research this topic, it is a man made observance and has nothing to do with The Lord at all. It just puts the glory on us and that is not what we are to do as Christians.

    • @Grace Belson,
      Hi Grace,

      I do not believe that we are trying to make up for Christ’s suffering. I think Lent is a season in which to be ever-mindful of the suffering Christ underwent for us, deeply flawed as we are. There should be no a”glory” in it. While during Advent, we celebrate the coming of our Lord and we have specific ceremonies and events that mark his approaching glory, so too, in Lent, we have specific steps we take to acknowledge Christ’s impending death and resurrection.

      There is a good piece here:
      http://www.cbn.com/family/Youth/elliottR_Lent.aspx?option=print
      on the relevance of Lent, written by a man whose denomination does not traditionally celebrate Lent.

      Hope that clarifies at least MY thinking on the matter. I can’t speak for Amy, but that’s why it is important for me to be mindful of the Lenten season…

      • @JessieLeigh, While I do not observe Lent, I do believe that the least we can do for the Lord who did die and sacrifice Himself for us on the cross is to honor Him by trying to rid ourselves of things that would crowd Him out. Obviously if we are doing it to get salvation that is the wrong motive, because Jesus Christ paid for our sins on the cross of Calvary. But if we are doing it to keep our hearts and lives uncluttered I *know* that is very Biblical.
        Even the story of Mary and Martha the Lord Jesus told her that she was cumbered about with much serving, that she was careful and troubled about many things.
        Consider these verses of Scripture.
        “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”
        “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
        But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
        For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
        “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”
        As we live to love Him more,
        Amanda

        • Thanks for adding your perspective, Amanda. Just because the actual verbiage of “lent” isn’t written in the Bible doesn’t mean that the practice isn’t Biblical.

    • @Grace Belson,
      1. Exactly. Lent IS rooted in tradition. Many observances and pieces of our faith have been passed along through oral and written tradition. For example, the word “Trinity” is not in Scriptures, but all Christian religions agree that there is one God in three persons, and we call it the Trinity. God left the Word of God in the bible and also the Church of God to interpret it. (Matthew 16:17-18) His World is not dead, stagnant, but living and must have a human element to make sure everyone is not just doing their own thing independently of each other. If we were all left alone to interpret Scripture, what a mess of opinions we’d have!
      2. Lent is based on the 40 days that Jesus spent fasting and praying in the desert before He began His earthly ministry, as well as the 40 days of rain (purification, beginning anew) that Noah and his family passed through before God made a new Covenant with them. It is in no way supposed to “make up” for His sufferings, which have been done once and for all, for the salvation of all. However, See Col. 1:24 which says (New Amer Bible) “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church…” or (NRSV) “It makes me happy to be suffering for you now, and in my own body to make up all the hardships that still have to be undergone by Christ for the sake of his body, the Church, …” Is that saying Christ didn’t do enough? Absolutely not. It’s just that we must take up our crosses as well, and follow Him, all the way to death. We suffer to unite ourselves to His sacrifice, and when we offer that suffering/sacrifice AS a prayer for His Church, we are just tapping into a source of power (grace) that Christ won for us by HIS suffering.
      3. Fasting is a way to “pray without ceasing” as 1 Thess 5:17 says. It reminds us to be attentive to the Lord all day long – as we are depriving our bodies of food, our souls turn to God.
      4. As far as Christians gaining glory from “giving up” something for 40 days or increasing their prayer lives or doing acts of service, that’s certainly not what we celebrate Lent for. In fact, the reading for Catholic Ash Wednesday service is the Gospel that talks about the Pharisees fasting and praying for all to see, and how they already have their reward. If I want my glory to be in Heaven, and I do, I don’t allow my sacrifices to be glorified here on Earth.

      Best, Katie

    • You’re right. There is no way with anything we do that we can make up for the suffering of Jesus. However… striving to rid our lives of “clutter” that gets in the way of our relationship with him? Doing without something we enjoy in order to focus more clearly on his ultimate sacrifice? I hardly think that could be considered a mockery.

      In a perfect world perhaps we would all walk around without distraction, fully focused on God every single minute. Lent serves as a “speed bump,” if you will, to slow down and look to the cross before Easter.

      James 2:20 clearly states that faith without works is useless.

  23. Beautiful, Beautiful post!!! Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. I have been doing some major self-reflecting here lately. God Bless :)

  24. Wonderful post Amy! Loved it!

  25. I do hope that we would all agree that there can never be anything that we, as guilty and sinful people, can do to make up for the suffering of Christ.

    I don’t think it is the intent of anyone to glorify themselves during the Lenten season, instead it is a season in which many pay special attention to reflect on the suffering of Christ, our own sin (and hopefully repentance) so that we may draw closer to God, learn more from Him and His Word, seek new paths/practices that will continue to help us grow in Him and prepare our hearts for the celebration of Easter.

    Here are some resources for your consideration:
    ~ http://www.calvin.edu/worship/planning/season/2_09_05.php.
    ~ http://www.slate.com/id/2137092/?nav=tap3

    It should also be noted that the original observance of Lent beginning around the year 325: “Lenten observances were tightly tied to the sacrament of baptism. Lent was a time of preparation for new Christians, who were typically baptized during the Easter vigil. For baptized Christians, Lent was an opportunity to reconsider and renew their baptismal vows.” Excerpt found here: http://www.reformedworship.org/magazine/article.cfm?article_id=1890

    • Absolutely, Laura! Of course we should all strive at all times to “strip away” anything that takes us further from God, but having a special season to refocus and recommit sure does help me.

  26. I like your perspective, Amy. We don’t observe Lent in our family, but I do like the idea of giving up something that takes us away from God (like TV, computer, etc.). This, coupled with prayer, is similar to fasting and praying that Jesus commanded, so I definitely think it is scriptural. And hopefully, we won’t just go back to our old ways after Easter!

    A book idea: “Desiring God” by John Piper- I’m re-reading this now in its updated form and it’s good to be challenged to find my joy in God and not all the things of this world that pull me so…

  27. What an inspiring entry and a great reminder to me. Thanks for sharing your heart. Many blessings to you as you strive to be a testimony to our Lord and Savior.

  28. Just found a super recap of what Lent is and where it comes from Scripturally: http://www.halleethehomemaker.com/2010/02/ash-wednesday-lenten/

  29. Thank you for this post and your previous Lenten Devotions post. I am a protestant who celebrates Lent and I have been searching for ideas to help me celebrate Lent with my children. Your posts have helped me clarify and have inspired me. Thank you so much!

  30. Hi,

    I just saw your article about Lent and thought you might be blessed by this very short video I made re: the Lenten season:
    http://youtu.be/HxNGBX-Zst0

    I think it very much goes along with what you said: “The season of lent is upon us, and again I’m reminded that God doesn’t want my chocolate; He wants ME.”

    Blessings,
    Lon

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