As we close out the first week of Lent, I’m compelled to talk about it here. I do not come from a tradition that follows the church calendar, but I have come to truly appreciate the rhythms it provides, finding a deeper experience and meaning in my faith, particularly at this time of year.
The most important part of Lent is making a sacred space and setting aside time every day in preparation for the upcoming death and resurrection of Christ. For me, observing Lent says: I will not treat these days like any other day, but will treat them as they are – holy and set apart for knowing Christ better and more greatly appreciating what he has done for me.
I had intended to go through Wendy Speake’s book The 40 Day Sugar Fast again during Lent, but I didn’t take the time to prepare in advance to invite others to join me. In retrospect, I’m thankful it turned out that way. Lent isn’t about sugar, or really even about self-denial (though self-denial does have value). It’s about creating a sacred space and asking God to join us there. It’s about revisiting the magnitude of who God is and what he did on our behalf that we could be saved and enjoy eternity with him.
I usually go online to find a Lenten exercise, but this year, a local church provided a reading plan through the book of Exodus that I am very much enjoying. It opens with this invitation, by Amanda Williams of She Reads Truth:
All of Scripture is a story of God’s unearned love and unmerited faithfulness toward a rebellious people. It is an exodus story, where the primary job of the one being rescued is to trust the Rescuer. We cannot deliver ourselves, but the One who can deliver us has come.
Lent is a long, slow season where we pause to remember who we are, who God is, and what Jesus has done. We are made from dust with love and intention, in the image of our Creator (Genesis 1:27). We have sinned and we are sinners, incapable of saving ourselves (Romans 6:23). Jesus Christ is the perfect expression of God’s eternal love and faithfulness, given to reconcile us to Himself (Colossians 1:19-20). We are invited to repent of our sin, return to our merciful and compassionate God, and rest in the freedom of His grace and forgiveness (Acts 3:19-20).
His love for us cannot be outdone or undone. Enter this season of repentance and remembrance with humility, willing to see and confess your sin. And enter with confidence, trusting in the completed work of Jesus Christ on your behalf. Don’t bother running away on fast horses or hiding behind your best efforts. Run to Him, and rest.
If you’ve not already embarked on a Lenten journey, it’s not too late. I pray you’ll set aside a sacred space and time each day. Jesus will meet you there.
“The God who made the world and everything in it, this Master of sky and land, doesn’t live in custom-made shrines or need the human race to run errands for him, as if he couldn’t take care of himself. He makes the creatures; the creatures don’t make him. Starting from scratch, he made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find him. He doesn’t play hide-and-seek with us. He’s not remote; he’s near. We live and move in him, can’t get away from him! One of your poets said it well: ‘We’re the God-created.’ Well, if we are the God-created, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to think we could hire a sculptor to chisel a god out of stone for us, does it? ” –Acts 17:27-29 (The Message)