Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Lent ~ The Season of Renewal

“Sometimes God doesn’t change your situation because He’s trying to change your heart.” 
~ from Peace Be With You

Lent defined is this: the period preceding Easter that in the Christian Church is devoted to fasting, abstinence, and penitence in commemoration of Christ's fasting in the wilderness. In the Western Church it runs from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday and so includes forty weekdays.

Dan. 9: And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplication, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:

I was raised in the Catholic religion and that meant Ash Wednesday we children would be marched off from School, across the street to the Church where we’d have a service and receive ashes in the form of the cross on our foreheads. The church always smelled so good on Ash Wednesday, the odor lingered for hours after the service departure.

We were not to remove the ashes and had to wear the cross of ashes on our forehead until it wore off or the next day. Imagine how that went over in a non-religious community. Boy was THAT a heavy load to carry a cross on my forehead for hours on end! But then it really made me think of the cross Jesus had to carry and it really was the beginning of rooting me in Christ.

I converted at the tender age of fourteen, much to the chagrin of my parents who were Catholic by mouth only, not religious by any means, they just deemed themselves Catholic. Christianity was my new course. I became a Born-again Christian.

I was mocked and persecuted more for becoming born-again than the ashes I wore on my forehead. Christianity was a heavier cross but one I was willing to carry for the rest of my life. It was as if I had become the bridesmaid and married Christ.

When I put it that way, it makes more sense doesn’t it? In marriage you vow to love, honor and cherish until death do you part? Well the good news was that I would never part with being married to Christ because He promised eternal life; then the hard part, being submissive and learning to LIVE Christ, another heavy cross.

Lent isn’t always about ‘giving something up’, it can also be about adding something that adds to the Glory of Christ. Say you don’t attend church, for Lent, you might want to attend every Sunday finishing up with the Easter service. A lot of people only attend TWO services a year, Easter and Christmas. Why? Doesn’t make sense.
Say you want to add time to your bible reading for lent; maybe attend a bible study group. All of these are a form of the sacrifice that Lent calls for. Adding bible scripture posts to your facebook wall IS NOT glorifying God, it is glorifying YOU. Glorifying yourself is not what Lent is about.

If it was warmer out, this is the time I’d be outside communing with nature. Instead my communing with nature will have to wait a few days and I’ll just walk and talk to the empty fields that will soon burst forth with life. Yes, to me, communing with nature is communing with God. God IS mother nature. God IS father time. God IS all those emotions you feel running through your veins. BUT God IS NOT hate! When you feel the need to lash out, sure, claim it as ‘just stating an opinion’, but really you are drawing AWAY from God and filling yourself with HATE. Then that negative energy will reseed and grow. That is also NOT what Lent is about.

Lent to me is sacrificing for God. Lent to me is a spiritual renewal ending on Easter Sunday when I celebrate my New Year’s Day. Lent to me is Glorifying God in all I do and not myself.

1 Cor. 7: 5 Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.


Anonymous said...

Well said, Joni. I've always loved Easter. After decades of practicing Lent by giving up candy, soda, and chocolate (which I have to say wasn't totally a selfless thing because I wanted to lose weight.), I went the other way: Instead of criticizing someone, I offered a positive comment about what they were doing. Instead of speeding and tailgating, I left ten minutes ahead of time. Cursing? Drop a quarter in a jar each time I slipped up and donate it to church. I also made it a goal to give a stranger a compliment once a day. (in person). Lent has never been better for me. :)

You go, girl.


joni said...

Thanks Raven!

I like your thinking!

I think ANYthing that brings us closer to God is all well and good with Him. :)

Tiggs said...

I had never thought of the idea of "adding" something at Lent. It has always been "described" as 'giving something up' and replacing it with time with God. But I like the idea of adding something to "Glorify Christ"!

That has gotten me thinking, "What can I add/do to Glorify God?" I have a couple ideas to mull over today and decide upon.

Thanks for a great post and a new look at Lent.


joni said...

I have fasted for years now, but in all honesty, I felt as if it was for me more than Him.
While 'giving something up' be it food, the computer, facebook is a depravity, you find yourself adding things during that time to bring yourself closer to God.

I prayed about fasting the night before Wednesday and God told me to glorify HIM. So I'm writing every day about lent and it FILLING us, adding to us while glorifying God.

This is my challenge, to write something every day until Easter Sunday when all will become clear what I wrote.

He's doing the guiding I'm just the messenger. :)