Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the start of the season of Lent in the church year.
Lent is a time of preparation of our souls for the awesome events of Good Friday and Easter Sunday. It lasts 40 days, excluding Sundays, and has traditionally been marked by fasting or giving up of some luxury or other.
Lent is one of those ancient customs, going back to the early church period. In recent times it has been largely associated with the Catholic Church, which is a bit sad. Why should the Catholics have all the fun?
Lent is a great time to reorient our lives and our habits back towards God. Instead of seeing it as a time for “giving up” our little luxuries we should see it as a time of allowing God to bend us back to His direction.
Rather than “giving up” ice cream for Lent, it’s more helpful to ask ourselves, “What is it that keeps me distant from God?” Or perhaps, “What should I be doing that would draw me closer to God?”
The brilliance of Lent is that it goes for 40 days (plus Sundays). To establish a new habit generally takes up to 30 days. So setting up new life patterns that draw us closer to God during Lent reprograms our souls to keep the same pattern going all year.
Things you might “give up” during Lent: wasting time on the internet, including social media; road rage; obsessing about money, perhaps giving more to charity; crash diets; feeling bad about your performance as a christian.
Things you might “take up” in Lent to draw closer to God: help a neighbour with gardening; make a space in your routine for daily Bible reading; offer to lead your cell group; help a single mother with child minding; pray blessing for that annoying person.
If we do Lent right every year we can become super heroes of faith, bending our lifestyle away from the world and towards God.
Start today and let this next few weeks be a time of growing in Christ.