Wednesday, April 2, 2014

It is still lent

I probably don’t need to remind you of this, every fast food chain flashing signs of fish sandwiches is reminder enough.

But just in case…

It is still Lent.

I would imagine this reality will either elicit two kinds of responses in you. Either you are coasting through Lent without much struggle to keep your Lenten promises, or you are wondering how in the world you are going to keep to your fasts the remainder of Lent.

If the first one is true for you, the rest of the world congratulates you, keep it up!

If the second is more true for you, you’re not alone. Let’s talk.

It has been my experience that during this time of Lent, we start losing steam and forget what the season of Lent is for. I think we lose steam because we lose sight of the purpose. Lent is not about us. If I was trying to keep my Lenten commitments simply for myself, I wouldn’t get very far. But Lent isn’t about me. It’s about Christ.

Lent is not a season we need to “get through.”

All too often I hear phrases such as “just 23 days until I can have chocolate, coffee, or get on social media.” Or insert your poison. I am guilty of this myself.

But if Lent isn’t about us, it also isn’t just about “getting” what we gave up at Easter.

Yes, in a few short weeks we will taste the proverbial sweetness of whatever we gave up. But here is this thing: our sacrifices actually bring us to something. We don’t give up things such as chocolate so it will taste really good on Easter. Lent actually brings us to something, the Resurrection of Christ. In our fasting we enter into the sufferings of Christ, in order that we can enter into the joy of the Resurrection.

If Lent were just about giving something up for 40 days, it will would seem like a really silly idea. But that is not the point. It has meaning and purpose.If we treat Lent like it is just a simple religious tradition we aren’t going to get very far.

If you are struggling this Lent I want to offer you one suggestion that I believe can transform your Lent into a fruitful spiritual encounter:

Remember what the sacrifice is for.

We sacrifice during Lent (by praying, giving alms, and fasting) because we enter into the season of Christ’s suffering and death, not only with our hearts, but with our bodies. We need to give our spiritual and physical sacrifices to the Lord during Lent because we need that physical reminder of what the Lord has done for us.

Next time your Lenten promises seem hard, remember what the sacrifice is for! Our sacrifices are not in vain. While they may seem hard, we will soon enter into a season where we celebrate the victory of the Lord.

Next time you want to reach for that chocolate, don’t think about what you can’t have, but think of the sacrifice Christ made for you and offer your sacrifice back to him.

Lent isn’t over yet. If you haven’t kept up with your commitments, recommit yourself. If you are struggling to find meaning in your sacrifices, think about Christ on the cross and refocus your sacrifice and energy back to Him.

There is still time to make this Lent count.

Michelle Neitzke