Why Lent?

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Spring holidays are upon us!

Recurring holidays root our souls to a soothing rhythm with a 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.

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, next week on March 1, 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?)

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 fasting from anxiety, like author Lauren Winner, might produce more heart room for God than simply giving up chocolate.

Attending our church’s Lent services is a not-to-be-missed hour on Ash Wednesday. The focus on repentance and our utter need of God is the perfect way to introduce the Easter season to your family.

It’s time to teach your family about Lent. Even your young children can learn that Lent is not just pocket fuzz. Build anticipation for Resurrection Sunday by taking  your family on a 6-week journey focusing on Jesus and His fulfilled prophecy of redeeming humankind. Messiah Mystery is a great way to lead your family in these conversations.

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We’ll also be on a Lenten journey here on the blog. We’ll post 6 weekly Lent Lessons to guide family conversation. I promise it will be both beautiful and memorable. Your kids, or grandkids, will learn more than you expect, even if they complain.

It’s worth it. 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. Just 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 toddler’s first steps.

You’ll find that when you truly understand and focus on Lent, your heart will be more receptive to the overflowing joy of Easter!

*A Hunger for God, Crossway Books, 1997

 

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3 thoughts on “Why Lent?”

    1. Lent used to be associated only w liturgical churches; Catholics, Episcopalians, etc, but in recent years Protestants have realized the benefits of preparing our hearts as believers in Jesus. In the past many Protestants viewed churches who practiced Lent as encouraging their ‘flocks’ to “earn” favor with God.

      The Messiah Mystery lessons from Ever Thine Home are short Bible studies for families from the Old Testament helping moms, dads and kids learn how Jesus was the long awaited Messiah. It’s an ideal way to prepare hearts for Easter.

  1. Barbara, I love your grace filled encouragement to ‘Just begin.’ ‘Be brave enough to start.’ I think I will post those phrases as a reminder in different parts of my home and work! Thanks for this mornings encouragement.

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