…if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)
We did not celebrate Lent as a child in my Jewish home. I remember my friends “giving up” soda and not eating meat on Fridays, but I never understood the meaning behind what they were doing. In the church where I came to know the Lord, we did not talk about Lent, or why so many believers observe it. However, after many years of teaching students and women about God and the beautiful mercies He has bestowed upon us, I can’t help but find these forty days prior to our Savior’s resurrection a vital element of our faith.
Although not specifically described in the Bible, Lent is a time of preparation before the celebration of the resurrection – a time for soul repentance, restoration, and refocusing.
It is a time to prepare our hearts… Jesus is coming.
It is a time to quiet our souls… Jesus is coming.
It is a time to turn back to Him and away from anything which takes our focus off of Him… Jesus is coming.
It is a time to restore our Joy… Jesus is coming.
It is a time to refocus… Jesus is coming.
The season of Lent began last Wednesday on Ash Wednesday when we were reminded we are but dust.
All go to the same place. All came from the dust and all return to the dust. Ecclesiastes 3:20
The season continues for forty days (not including Sundays) until Easter Sunday.
Is your heart stirring in you to move towards this time of preparation?
Is your heart moving you to fast?
Do you feel led to let something go for forty days?
Do you feel pressed to do something different for someone or something for the next 40 days?
God calls each of us to prepare our hearts in different ways.
One year I was drinking way too much coffee, so I gave it up. Every time I wanted a cup I realized that while my sacrifice is meaningful, it paled in comparison to the huge sacrifice my Savior made for me. I gave up coffee for five years for Lent. It was hard every year, yet in my small sacrifice, He gave me strength daily and I relied on Him to wake me up and give me kind words throughout the day! Each time I thought of coffee, I thought of Him. Each year I turned my heart back towards Him and He prepared my heart for Resurrection Sunday.
One year I had let exercise go by the wayside. This was a big deal for me because I was a marathon runner. So, I committed to running every day for forty days. I got up to run at 5am each morning, but if something came up and I slipped through my day without a run, I still went. Sometimes it was ten o’clock at night when I was squeezing in a run! Regardless, I put on my praise music and ran! He gave me the daily strength I needed and in each run I grew closer to Him as He prepared my heart for Resurrection Sunday.
Many people give up (fast) from certain foods and they are reminded of Him each time they crave what they love.
It’s not something we have to do, it’s something we choose to do – to move our hearts back to where they need to be in Him.
Many people commit to reading Scripture every day for forty days.
Here are a few Scripture reading plans for Lent:
You are the only one who knows what you need to do to prepare your heart for this season, and it’s not too late to begin.
Whether it’s letting something go, or doing something daily, both are hard to do for 40 days and impossible to do without His strength.
When you get to the point of being at the end of yourself, that’s when you find Him, and YOU can do all things through HIM who gives you strength (Philippians 4:13).
I praise you for this season of heart preparation. Help our hearts come as one into Your presence. May we repent of what we are holding onto or knee deep into, may You restore our joy, and May our focus be completely on You. Bring us back into your presence, because we know that in Your presence there is fullness of joy.
In Jesus Name I Pray,