John 3:17 “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”
Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. For the next 40 days, Christ followers who so choose, will give honor to Him by sacrificing something in their lives. Sometimes it is a physical thing such as chocolate or sugar, others give up the internet or cable television, while still others give up vices such as swearing or alcohol. You will often hear the phrase “I gave it up for Lent” bandied about by people, drawing laughter and eye rolls. It is, I think, one of the most misunderstood times of the Easter season.
Lent basically means spring. The time of the year when old is made new, when the cycle of life begins again. After a season of rest, even the ground itself is renewed, becoming the perfect backdrop for blossoming flowers and emerald fields of grass. Baby animals bring a smile as they venture forth to test their new world. The old, dead branches of trees are trimmed away, opening space for new growth, stronger limbs, a place for sunlight to reach the darkest corners.
Last year was my first time celebrating Lent. The religion I grew up in did not practice it, leaving me no real understanding of it. I “gave up” fast food as I recall. I felt like one of the crowd as I regaled my friends with the sacrifice I was making. Yet when it was over, when the last hymn was sung, when the last of the Easter candy was consumed, when the last of the ham was picked apart, I completely forgot the entire Lent experience. I mean completely. Never gave it another thought.
As I sat here today, wondering what I might give up, (giving up the gym would not be a sacrifice I decided) I heard the whisper of His voice in the scriptures that I read. Revelation 21:5 reminds me that He will “make all things new”. Isaiah 48:6 tells me that “from now on I will tell you of new things, of hidden things unknown to you.” In Romans 6:4 Paul tells us that “just as Christ was raised from the dead…we too may live a new life.”
My heart overflowed with gratitude for the understanding He placed on my heart. It is not about vain sacrifices or giving up something for a few days. It is not about the 40 days of my life. It is about the 40 days of His Son’s life. It is the lonely walk that Christ took in the wilderness to find complete understanding of what He was about to do. It is about making it through temptations, trials, and pain, giving all the glory to God. It is about the gift Christ gave us when He sacrificed Himself for our sins, thus giving us a new life, a new start.
The Lent Season is an opportunity to start again. To bring the new, clean, brightness of spring into the dark, cold winter of our lives. Lent is a chance to regain control over areas of our lives that bring pain to either ourselves or to others. It is a time to let go of something that keeps wearing at our soul. It is the first 40 steps of what leads us to a closer walk with Christ.
Dearest Father God, we are in awe of Your love for us. We know that we could never match the sacrifice Your son made on our behalf and we pray that You will accept our meager offerings. Let our hearts be turned to You this Lent Season as we strive to open our hearts to the seeds you will plant in us. Let our love for Christ bloom and blossom, showering those around us with Your beautiful fragrance of love and forgiveness. Let our voices sing out of Your all powerful mercy and grace. In the name of Your Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Amen
copyright@2012 Michelle Welch, Breath of Life Women’s Ministry
photography property of Michelle Welch, all rights reserved