There is comfort in recurring holidays that root our souls to a soothing rhythm with its repetitive beat. But there is also a quickened sense of anxiety that we haven’t prepared, haven’t anticipated this annual event as we feel we should. Such is the arrival of the spring holidays. Most women, and men too, have spent our yearly holiday energies on Thanksgiving and Christmas with a little left over for birthdays and maybe our anniversary. Maybe.
So the arrival of Lent today, the 18th of February, finds us thinking of many other things besides this annual season of preparation. This inauguration of self-denial and repentance feels a little bewildering. What is the purpose of Lent? What should I give up for Lent? (And why?) This quote from John Piper inspires and reminds me of the general rationale behind what we give up for God:
“If we don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because we have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Our soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great.”* Overindulgence in lesser things keeps us from hungering after God.
Lent is an ideal time to push away from the table of the world to embrace the “pleasant pain”* of self-denial, of fasting. Serious takes on Lent fascinate and motivate me: fasting from complaining, perhaps, or author Lauren Winner’s fast from anxiety might produce more heart room for God than simply giving up chocolate.
Attending our church’s Lent services is now a not to be missed hour on Ash Wednesday. And the focus on repentance and our utter need of God is the perfect way to introduce the Messiah Mystery to your family. If you have not seen or heard of it click here. It’s not too late to order it and create a bonding experience with your family.
As I tell every mom, even doing only one lesson is better than none. We moms too often don’t start because we loathe failure and not finishing feels like failure so we decide not to even begin. Like a twelve month old who ventures a few faltering steps then falls, be brave enough to start even if you don’t get more than two sessions finished. God will be pleased and will cheer for you just like we do for our toddlers first steps.
Join us on this Lenten journey to discover more of who Jesus came to be. I promise it will be both beautiful and memorable. Your kids, or grandkids, will learn more than you expect even if they complain. And your hearts will be more receptive to the joy of Easter six weeks from now!
*A Hunger for God, Crossway Books, 1997