Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lordwill bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”Exodus 14:13-14
Historians can trace lent back to the first century church. Lent means spring, and it is one of the root words of the English word “long” -as in, the days get longer in spring.
When lent was first observed it was done by those who were seeking to get baptized, they would spend the 40 days before Easter, preparing spiritually by fasting and praying.
40 days is significant!
In scripture, in the story of Noah’s ark the waters and the rain lasted for 40 days and nights. The Israelites wandered the desert for 40 years.
Jesus fasted for 40 days and was tempted by the devil.
All of these times in scripture were a preparation time for something significant.
The earth rested and was renewed in those forty days while the rain covered the earth. This was in preparation for new life upon the world.
The Israelites heart and minds were transformed in the 40 years of wandering so they would be prepared to take the land that the Lord had promised for them.
Jesus spend 40 days in the wilderness fasting and praying to prepare for His earthly ministry.
When you prepare for a test do you study? Or do you just place your math book beside you and hope the information seeps into your brain?
When a solider goes to war, he must first spend months and months preparing himself both mentally and physically.
These are mere physical preparations.
Lent definitely involves the physical. Yet it is significantly more. It is a spiritual preparation!
We enter into lent as our time in the wilderness, seeking what God has promised. Lent is a building of anticipation for the most glorious event that ever took place in human history.
There never was and never will be anything as significant as what Jesus did on the cross.
He took mans guilt and shame and put it to death, He broke the power of sin and death.
He restored mankind’s created value so we could have intimate relationship with God the Father.
Lent is a time when we dedicate 40 days to prepare our hearts for that deep reality.
Where we prepare our heart for deeper relationship with Jesus.
This is what is so beautiful about the Christian calendar. Much like the Lord’s supper, it reminds us to make room in our busy lives to physically take part in the wonderful story of our Lord and King Jesus!
It’s not something we have to do, It’s something we want to do.
I love lent because it is a time when my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ come together to seek the King! Any time in the year is a great time to fast but Lent is unique as you do your wilderness wondering in a community seeking the same goal—closeness with the Father!
We put aside certain foods, like sugar or meat as a way to say, “Jesus you are my richness, you are my meat, you are the true lasting sweetness of my life. The joy of knowing You is much more than my enjoyment of ham, or bacon or a triple pounder burger.
Fill me with the enjoyment of knowing you and you alone!”
And then when we feast on Easter Sunday, it will transform the eating again of rich foods into a bountiful celebration of Christ’s resurrection.
What you give up at Lent could be anything that takes your time and energy away from spending time with Christ. Something, that if you give it up for a season will leave you with more time and energy to seek Jesus.
What has stolen your focus from Christ?
You give that up to spend time with Jesus in prayer, journaling and reading scripture.
The most important thing about Lent is getting to know Jesus, not about the discipline of prayer and fasting though they truly are a discipline.
It cannot be about biting your lip and fighting to go without.
But about your desire to truly spend more quality time with Jesus.
Have you ever had a friend or family member you truly adore come for a visit?
You are so excited to spend time with them you put aside a book you’re reading or a project you’re working on. You don’t pick up your phone or go on social media at all because all you want to do is sit and talk with that person.
Or do you remember when your parents would take you out school to go to a family celebration like a wedding. It’s so important to celebrate your friend or family member’s happiness that you put aside school to go celebrate with them.
That is what lent is: putting aside things so you can spend time with Jesus.
Lent is the physical action of adoration for the King of Kings.
May it be filled with worship, prayer and deeper revelation of His face!
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