Lent begins early this year. Wednesday, February 10 is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.
Lent is a season of 40 days (not counting Sundays) which ends at Easter. It is a season developed by the church, intended to help Christians grow in faith, and be prepared to celebrate the resurrection of Christ with renewed faith and conviction. Lent is 40 days long in a deliberate imitation of Jesus' 40 days fasting in the desert (see Luke 4:1-13). Like most efforts to grow in faith, Lent requires you apply yourself to get the most out of it.
Some of the disciplines of Lent are slightly artificial. Like an athletic drill, they concentrate on one skill at a time in order to help us grow. To illustrate, one way coaches teach ball handling skills in basketball, is to set up orange “traffic” cones on the gym floor. Players then have to dribble around the obstacles, changing ball-control hands, and going as fast as they can from one end of the court to the other without losing the ball. Players hate the drill because it is repetitious and feels artificial or fake. After all, there are no cones on the floor in an actual game.
There is, however, the opposing team. And there is the need to control the ball around these obstacles and move the ball from one end of the court to the other without losing it. The skills players develop in the cone drill can make all the difference in a game. And developing skills is the point of practice, isn't it?
Well, sometimes Christians engage in practices that seem a little artificial in order to develop spiritual life that will transfer to real life. Lent is a season that deliberately invites us to assume these practices in order to grow.
Disciples of Lent include fasting (skipping meals, or avoiding certain foods), private prayer and Bible reading, public worship, and alms (giving).
Now, let's suppose you decide to make extra space in your life during Lent, for daily prayer. Maybe its just 15 minutes. You don't turn on the TV after dinner, or get up a little early, or eat at your desk so you can be alone. At first this interruption is going to feel very strange. You are not going to like it, and you are going to say to yourself, “Why on earth do I have to do this? This was a mistake.” But, if your answer to your own question is, “I'm doing this because Jesus fasted for 40 days and I am following him,” then with every effort you are reminded of your purpose in Lent: you are following Christ. And that is a good thing.
This Grace Notes has some suggestions to put the four disciples of Lent mentioned above into practice. I hope you will take the leap and follow Jesus.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.