As I write this, I'm just three sleeps away from my holiday. I'm tired and I still have a lot to do before we go - laundry, packing, shopping. It's hard to think, much less think clearly. So today I will keep it short. Or at least I'll try.
Lent 2020 begins February 26th and runs to April 9th. 40 days. 40 potentially long days since one is expected to give up something that feels like sacrifice. Of course, those days in the wilderness were long for Jesus as well, without food to nourish his body. And depriving ourselves - not necessarily of nutrition, but of something else to which we perhaps pay too much attention - certainly allows us to share in our Lord's sufferings. I don't make light of that because it is what we are called to as His disciples.
Lent also calls us to reflect on Jesus' life, ministry, and work on the cross. For our sins He died. No one else could make propitiation for us; no one else qualified to be a lamb unblemished. As the songs say, only He can save; there is power in the blood. What could wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Lent can be important if it draws you closer to the One who loved you enough to give His life for you. If it's just a ritual for the sake of checking a box, what's the point? If you're trying to impress others with a high-minded spiritual exercise, where's the glory for God? God examines our motives and knows our hearts. It's all about Him. If you get your applause here, from others or in self-congratulation, you have received your reward in full.
For me this whole year is about centring on the Lord. It's not just a 40-day period but 365. Whom have I in heaven but Him? I'm striving to desire Him more than anything on earth. I'm striving to agree with the psalmist that though my health may fail and my spirit grow weak, God remains the strength of my heart and is mine forever (Psalm 73:25-26). That is more valuable to me than any Lenten exercise, though even in my currently sub-par state I recognize Lent can accomplish this for some.
Celebrating Lent for the right reasons? Excellent. If not, refocus and regroup or give it a pass. God is not looking for lip-service, but for those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth.
You can find out more about Susan Barclay's writing at www.susan-barclay.blogspot.com