Easter is quickly approaching. If you are anything like me, you’re already getting excited about the time spent with family and friends, time off work, and the day after when you can get discounted candy! (I can’t be the only one who looks forward to the candy, right?)
Kids are, also, anxiously awaiting Easter egg hunts. They can’t wait to wake up to find their Easter basket and devour chocolate bunnies and jelly beans. For many, this is a time to get together with loved ones, eat delicious food, and relax. Not to mention, attempt to get the kiddos to smile for the yearly Easter bunny picture.
For others, it’s a time of celebrating the resurrection of Jesus and to partake in the season of
What is the meaning of Lent?
Lent officially begins this year on Wednesday, March 6th (known as Ash Wednesday) and ends on April 20th (Good Friday). Although this season is typically celebrated in the Catholic Church, Lent has become very widespread among Christ followers across many churches today.
Lent is often a time of fasting. The general idea of fasting is to surrender something hindering one’s relationship with Christ.
Further, Lent is a time to set strict disciplines with oneself to better hear what God is trying to teach. This season is established to give up something time consuming, choosing, rather, to be fervently in prayer. Additionally, it is an opportunity to self-reflect on areas of recurring sin in our lives. Recurring sin prevents us from developing an honest relationship with Christ. For example, if I habitually watch Netflix for 2 hours each night, instead of binge watching my favorite show, that time could be used to read the Bible and pray. Another example, someone who struggles with gossip, could instead intentionally pray for that person.
Lent is modeled after Jesus and the 40 days and nights He spent in the desert to fast and pray (Matthew 4:1-11). In this text Jesus spends day and night praying and worshiping His Heavenly Father. After 40 days of fasting, He becomes hungry, and the devil comes to tempt Him with bread.
Jesus responds, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only” Matthew 4:10 (NIV). Satan left, and the angels came to take care of Jesus. There are other examples of fasting, such as Moses and Elijah who also fasted for 40 days (See Deuteronomy 9:9 and 1 Kings 19:8 for further context on those stories).
What can I give up for Lent?
Lent is the season where Christians prepare themselves to fast, repent, have things in moderation, and practice discipline. Naturally, the obvious idea of fasting is not having food for a certain number of days or abstaining from a certain food. However, nowadays, we can fast from anything. We can fast from certain foods or drinks, social media, television, spending habits, electronics, secular music, etc. The point is to open up our hearts to God.
Further, when we really challenge ourselves to give up something that has a hold on us, practicing lent is more rewarding. Last year, I took a break from listening to secular music. As I drove around a lot for my job, I would always listen to the radio to fill the silence. Immediately, I noticed a change in my mood within the first week as I started listening to the local Christian radio station. Because of this small change, I was feeling more peace at work and was slower to anger when I was allowing myself to be filled with God’s goodness.
Another example, the year before that, I took a break from Twitter. I originally planned on activating it again after the end of my month. Conversely, when the time came to reactivate it, I no longer wanted to. I realized it was taking away from how I lived and how I treated other people. Further, I was filling my mind with what the world had to say and not the truths I know God says about me. At that time, I did not know how rewarding my daily sacrifices would be, but I’m thankful for them to this day.
Joel 2:12-13 says “..return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love..” (NIV).
Jesus wants us to come to Him with our troubles. He wants us to fully surrender our hearts to Him. He is a loving and forgiving father.Therefore, whatever it is that you are fasting from this season, I challenge you to take this time to give back to God. Have your spouse, kids, friends, coworkers etc. take this journey with you. The accountability will help and will make it a more fun and memorable experience for you!