Lent. It’s not for the sentimental.

What are you giving up?

We are about to enter the season of Lent, which is the period of time all of us should be gearing up to abstain from chocolate for forty days, right? You are all planning to do that, I hope?

For those of you who might be less spiritually mature, and still plan to eat your 70% dark chocolate with sea salt, I hope you are at the very least making plans to give up some of the slightly lesser sins such as:

  • Facebook?
  • Wine?
  • Flour?
  • Sugar?
  • Coffee?
  • TV?

I wonder what would it look like, friends, if we all gave up gossip? Or imagine if we gave up complaining for forty days, or comparing ourselves to others? What might our lives look like if we still ate a square of chocolate every afternoon, and yet were warm, cheerful, and sensitive to everyone for a month?

Friends, Lent is a wise tradition that insists we deal with our heart’s biggest spiritual issue: we are prone to wander, to forget, and to hide.

The tradition of Lent is a mercy. It’s a set-aside opportunity to turn from my own dead-end ways, and turn around to the life-giving way of God. The season is intended to soften our hearts, to return our joy, and to strengthen us for the rest of the journey.

Lent expects us to (re)turn our faces towards the sun. Sin hardens our hearts over time, and lulls us to sleep. Our hearts become numb and complacent, and our eyes haughty. We need a time of focused heart examination, because sin – whose property is only to destroy and separate – will steadily suck our spirits dry to the bone.

And so, during Lent, the point is not to give up chocolate or chips, but to give up sin!

God created us a physical beings, as well as spiritual. What is inside our hearts and minds will absolutely overflow into every crack and crevice of our physical lives and relationships. Knowing this, if my love of wine is more than my love of God, than I shouldn’t be surprised when body, mind, spirit, and relationships steadily become depleted, empty, and lifeless.

Lent is the time to turn around from my own dead-end path, and to start walking again in the light. It’s not sentimental. It is decisive. I leave all the good found in wine, or blogging, or social media, so that I can more freely follow Christ, and return to the real way, the real truth, and the real life.

Here are a few questions (thanks to Craig R. Higgins, from his article “On Keeping a Holy Lent”) to ask yourself if you are ready to focus on your heart this season.

  • What are my characteristic, habitual sins?
  • What has captured my attention to such a degree that my love for Jesus has grown cold?
  • In what ways is my devotion to Christ and his church less than whole-hearted?
  • Do I give thanks to God after every pleasant occurrence or time?
  • Am I warm, cheerful, sensitive to everyone?
  • Have I thought, or spoken unkindly of anyone?
  • Have I over – or under – eaten, slept, worked, rested?
  • Have I done things just for appearance?  Have I compared myself to others?
  • Have I been fervent in prayer and reading God’s Word?  Is there warmth?

Lent is not a downer.  Friends, Lent is where we physically trust that our Father is forming us into soft-hearted, humble, and thankful people who will reflect him to to the watching world.

Don’t be afraid. God’s grace and tender care is infinitely greater than any sin you may unearth in your heart during the season of Lent.

Turn, and return to Jesus, the one who made you, loves you, and delights over you.

Kim

3 responses to Lent. It’s not for the sentimental.

  1. Judi Hiller says:

    Well said, Kim. I just wish Sharon could be here to read and relish you words. She would be so proud of you and would love conversing with you……She was a woman who feared the Lord and looked to Him for daily strength. Blessings on you and yours. Judi Hiller

    ________________________________

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