March 04, 2020

Lenten Thoughts by Susan Barclay

I didn't grow up with the Lenten tradition, nor do I always participate in its observance. This year I'll be away for part of the season and so I hesitate to make the necessary commitment. Does this sound bad when Christ set aside everything to commit to me...?

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


  1. Your final paragraph says it all, Susan! God bless!

  2. Thanks for your blog, Susan. This sentence caught my attention: "For me this whole year is about centering on the Lord. It's not just a 40-day period but 365." It is so true and so important!

  3. First of all, Susan, enjoy your holiday. There are many scriptural verses that back what you are saying. “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6 NIV) “What does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. "Micah 6-8.” We are advised not to “wear sack cloths and ashes,” and our faces shouldn’t be looking long and grumpy. We can find and share joy during Lent.

    I try to keep my house reasonably clean all year round, but in the spring I may take down and wash curtains, get rid of any cobwebs, and open the windows to let the fresh air in. For me, Lent can be similar. I may need to get out in the fresh air myself to really appreciate that freshness and beauty. And while I’m out there, I can drink it God’s green earth and maybe even read a good book. God is more interested in our hearts than in our outward manifestation of our devotion to him. We can pray, eat healthy food and be kind and generous wherever we are. Maybe we can be more aware of our Lord on vacation than we are in our own familiar environment. Good bye, Susan, or may God be with ye.

    1. Thanks for sharing, Sharon. I did enjoy my holiday. Getting into God's beautiful creation certainly makes you more aware of Him and His incredible blessings. If He is so good to us this side of heaven, how much more does He have for us to enjoy there?

  4. Lent is a man-made observance. We must think about our Lord every day.


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