Friday, February 28, 2014

a Lent revolution

The calendar turns this week. As I turn the page I see it staring me straight in the face: Lent begins on Wednesday.

My approach to Lent has never been very spiritual. In fact, for most of my life I have never given Lent a second thought.

The last few years I’ve focused on cleaning the house during the Lent season. But this year I have a feeling that it should be about more than that. The cleaning isn’t bad, but in complete honesty I must confess: I’ve been using it as rouse. It’s been an effort to disguise what’s really there, buried down deep inside of me. It’s been hiding the truth that my decaying soul needs more detoxification than my home ever will.

Where does this gospel loving, Christ follower put Lent? She used to mark it on the calendar and make lists over what to clean. As if cleaning the house has anything to do with the state of my heart. The cleaning has become the outer dressing, a camouflage of what I really need to deal with.  

If Lent is about letting go, and giving penance, and doing without, then I’ve got much to work on. It’s much easier to loose myself in a clean house than to lose myself in God. I’d rather purge out the unnecessary crap in my house, than to throw away my bad attitudes and behaviors. This season I want to do without my critical spirit. I want to throw away my tendency to be quick to judge and slow to love. I can fast chocolate and other foods, and probably will at some point. But I realize that I cannot just fast on the outside without allowing God to work on my insides. If I do this then I am committing a grave sin by tying my redemption with the outer works of the flesh.

The discontent in my spirit tells me it’s time for a revolution in my heart. I’ll be honest, I don’t really know the right way to observe Lent, and my way will no doubt be different from yours. But what if as a collective church, we fasted more? What if we began expressing corporate penance for our sins? What if we decided to give financially, freely and sacrificially, to those in need? I wonder at the revolution that could cause. 

I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I believe we cannot afford to live safe and comfortable lives anymore. We need to let God be willing to take us to the deeper places, and that often requires a bigger sacrifice. There’s an entire world out there in desperate need of the revolution that Jesus brings, and if my willingness to let Jesus do his bigger work in me allows another to come to know his freedom, then I’m okay with all the discomfort along the way. That’s the kind of community life that Jesus calls all his followers to, where we willingly give of ourselves to love one another. Can an observance of Lent cause a revolution? I think it can, even if it only starts with one individual. 

But where do we go from here? I will be prayerful this weekend, as I ask God to reveal to me how he would like me to honor him this season. That’s something all of us can do. But we must do it with the willingness to obey him when asks us to do hard things, like fasting, giving, and repenting of the things we’ve allowed to run our lives.  This year I’m seeing Lent as an opportunity to give up my selfish tendencies that mark me as a sinner. I see it as time to give up my resources and my sinful appetite for God’s greater good.

We have so much here in our country, so much of what we don’t need and so little of what really matters. Can’t I do without so that someone else can live? Can't I trust God to provide for me when my giving requires sacrifice? Because Lent is not at all about what I’m giving up. Lent is all about acknowledging how God freely gave to me, so that I can freely give to others, so we all can live. And this giving and sacrificing, that is what causes revolutions.


  1. I was just telling God that I don't know how to do Lent either, and am I suppose to? I know (as always) I want to press into Him, and I want to relinquish whatever keeps me from that.

    1. I know what you mean. It's something I'm looking at differently this year, but the whole point is that pressing in. And I'm also giving more thought and prayer to fasting this year.


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