Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent, a 40 day fasting period. I grew up in a baptist church so I was never taught anything about Lent. The only “lent” I knew about was what you had to clean out of the dryer or between your toes. I heard about it again when I was school. I had a friend who gave up Coke (sodas, for you northerners) but it seemed like a very legalistic thing since I didn’t ever see the friend pray or talk about God. So, lent continued to just be that annoying stuff stuck in-between my toes. It wasn’t until after high school that I started to learn for myself different traditions and what I believed in and what I didn’t believe in. I learned that Lent was a time before Easter, the day we celebrate the resurrection of our savior, to fast, repent, and spiritually discipline yourself. To truly get your heart and life prepared for Easter. We must remember…
You can take something away from your life and still be left empty. It’s not about taking away but adding. Adding God.
Whether you practice Lent or not, (by the way, it doesn’t make you any worse or better if you do or do not)
We need to examine our hearts daily. This isn’t about whether to practice lent or not. It’s about asking ourselves if our heart’s desires are His. It’s about whether or not we are trusting in the One True God or a cheap, unreliable made-up “god”. It’s about strengthening our spiritual fruit especially the fruit of self control.
Thinking about lent and it’s purpose has brought up questions I am asking myself…
“What/who is in the way of me and God?”
“Am I willing to give that up to get closer to God?”
“What am I saying or doing that isn’t glorifying God?”
“Am I willing to commit some time to focus on working on my heart?”
“What do I love more than Jesus?”
Ask yourself these questions. Ponder. Examine. Ask God these questions!
“Test me, LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind..” -Psalm 26:2
Open your heart up to Him and ask Him to change you. Then, be intentional about living with your heart open.
Only Jesus changes us. We can’t do it ourselves. When we try, it ends up being fake. We give up soda for Lent but our hearts are still craving and thinking about that sugary treat hourly. Make sense? God molds our hearts but we still have the responsibility of living intentionally. Choosing Him. Spirit over flesh. It’s a balancing act. It’s hard but it’s worth it.
I’m learning daily how to balance grace and truth. I am giving things up to God this season that do not belong in my heart but I am relying on Him to take them and truly change my heart in the process. And I will continue to do so after Lent is over.
I encourage you to think about the condition of your heart and your relationship with God. And then, be intentional about growing closer to Him. If that means giving something up in the process, do it!
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away…” Ecclesiastes 3:1,5,6