One of the most remarkable things about God’s creation is that in every single season His beauty shows!
In summer you get to bask in the light of God all around you…green trees, fresh grass, running waters of the lake, pool, ocean, and river, big puffy cotton ball clouds…It’s almost as if His light on the earth is so great it literally causes everything including us to melt into it!
Fall is a time of everything on earth to start the decaying process, but somehow even in that God brings beauty in the beautiful colors of the leaves, smells of open fires, brisk air, clear skies and community in football.
The dead of winter brings glistening icy trees, winter wonderlands, snow capped mountains, iced over lakes, a need for hot apple cider and soup, and bundled up groups of people gathering for the holidays.
Spring brings birds chirping, beautiful bradford pear trees blooming, flowers blooming, pretty pink sunsets (since we can actually see them), and an overall feeling of renewal.
In this odd season between Christmas and Easter…we have this season of lent. I did not grow up in a Christian tradition that practiced the season of lent. My first encounter with lent was my freshman year of college. That night it was described to me as a “time that you are supposed to give up something since Jesus gave up himself.” Which, I suppose is true. At the time, I remember shrugging my shoulders thinking “Ok, I thought that was a Catholic thing? Well, I guess it couldn’t hurt! I will give up something.” That year I gave up talking bad in general…bad about people, negativity, and any curse words that had made their way into my vocabulary. Over the years I have completely ignored the season on occasion, adopted a habit like working out daily (that didn’t last real long), doing a special devotional with a group of girls (that one actually stuck, thanks Miss Marcie)…but here I am… Several years later, sitting in the pew at Trinity’s Ash Wednesday service last month when I read the description in the worship guide and thought it did a great job of laying out there what exactly lent is. The description is below:
“Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, the 40 days that precede Easter. In the Christian scriptures the number 40 relates to the period spent in the Ark by Noah, the period spent by Israel seeking the promised land after the Exodus, and the time Jesus spent in the wilderness prior to beginning his ministry. For us the season of Lent is an invitation of renewal (Lent means spring), 40 days to prepare ourselves to take in the Good News of Easter through deeper disciples of prayer, fasting, and doing good. Ashes are the traditional sign of sorrow and repentance and are also the signs of mortality.”
If you aren’t from a background that practices lent…I hope that helped bring you some clarity like it did for me! Over the years I have understood that it was a time to fast…take something out of your life so you can better focus on the Lord. Or possibly it is a time to add something so that you can better focus on the Lord. Well, this year I have decided to fast from sweets and fried foods. I honestly have done a better job at this than I thought I would. Fried foods has been pretty easy… minus the one night I accidentally fudged on sweet potato tatter tots…whoops! I have cheated a couple times on the sweets, but really that’s not too bad considering what a sweet tooth I have. I decided to try to give up something this year that really does hold me back in hopes that it would help me in the future. When I eat junk I feel horrible. Then I am in a bad mood. Then I don’t perform as well in life. Which then doesn’t glorify God as well as I could. It’s a cycle really. I knew that the only way I would give up something like sweets would be for 1 of 2 reasons… either someone was paying me to do it or I had made a commitment to the Lord. Now every time I look at a sweet I can easily look at it and think, “yep,…God is bigger than that and more important to me than my own selfish desires.”
Some may see lent as a dreary time, but the truth is…it’s a happy thing! A time of renewal! A way to practice springing forward in our relationship to God through a renewed commitment to Him shown in how we recommit or prune a habit!
Maybe you haven’t given up something or added something to your plate for lent this year… it’s ok… that is the good thing about God. You can practice a spring renewal anytime… He is always restoring, healing, and making mercies new every single morning! Recommit today…after all, the birds chirping in the morning just remind us that it’s spring renewal time!