I didn’t grow up with Lent. I had a lot of lint, but no Lent. Kidding aside, it was always a bit of a mystery to this conservative baptist girl when friends at school would show up with dirt on their foreheads and say stuff like I can’t have meat because it’s Friday. That made no sense at all. I honestly thought at one point it had to do with a frY day. Like you can’t have anything fried. Or French fries. Which is a really religious thing to do.
Of course I know better. I think I have no proof of this, but I feel like Lent has been made into a bigger deal as I’ve gotten older. I think I hear a lot more mainstream media, whatever that is these days, talking about it, referring to it. It is a lot less of stretch for people to know what it is and how to do it. You give up something and it seems like it’s getting you ready for something.
But maybe it’s so commonplace that it starts to lose something. I’ve discovered a few quick thoughts that have helped me refocus for these 40 days, and I think it has made a difference in my attitude toward the whole thing. I’ll admit I have felt bitterness and a bit of eye rolling when it comes to Lent. It doesn’t make a person more religious or righteous. In many ways, it shows us how we aren’t at all righteous. It proves we are a mess. And that’s where it needs to go.
- Lent proves us wrong.
- Lent proves we fail.
- Lent points us to the gospel.
- Daily and hourly.
- Lent gives us hope in Christ alone.
- Lent makes us admit our weakness.
- Lent shows us a mirror, then replaces the image with the cross.
“My heart and flesh may fail.” Well, there’s no “may” about it… Psalm 73 is actually a really great read for Lent. It points to all the things of this world that we look to for security and strength and comfort. None of them work very well. And when we get to Holy Week and see all our efforts piled up around us – we see them for what they really are. Ashes. Dirty rags. Feeble and frail. We have nothing to offer.
And that’s exactly where the Spirit leads us. To the wilderness and to the cross. The wonder filled cross. Where all my efforts should end. To the cross I cling.
“My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”