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3.04.2013

THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS OF LENT


It's the Lenten season.  What does that mean exactly?  Is that found specifically in the Bible? 

Definitively Lent is the 40 day period leading up to Easter (not counting Sundays).  Why 40 days?  40 days is probably just a long distance cousin to the 40 days of prayer and fasting that Jesus endured when tempted in the desert.  40 seems to be a magical God number used a great deal in the Bible.  We could possibly say that it appears to be one of God's favorite numbers. 

Most of the practices and methods of Lent are just that, practices and methods tooled by man.  They have morphed and evolved into what we know today.  Though not in the Bible specifically, Lent's design and purpose is to focus our hearts, minds and bodies on salvation that God offers to us and gave us through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus - EASTER!

Lent is a special time of prayer, penance, sacrifice and good works in preparation of the celebration of Easter.  It is a time of reflection, a change in habits, a giving of a sacrifice to God, a conscious turning to pointedly think about God and pray more deliberately.  In some regard it is like a 40 day sabbatical from the normal and self-centered ways and culture we live in.  It is meant to foster, through a dedicated thought process and lifestyle changes, a significant resurgence to the prominence of God in our lives. 

Most people, even if they don't associate with organized religion or possibly even a relationship to Christ, use Lent as a time to "give up" something in an effort to show God or sometimes self, that we can sacrifice for someone greater than ourselves - that our lives are more than just lived for self.  That "something" that is given up for 40 days (Ash Wednesday through Easter morning) is very personal and something that is going to cost you something - a constant showing of willpower or denial.

Some people give up soda, chocolate, dairy, meat (though during Lent meat is not eaten on Fridays typically), TV, cellphones, etc...  Others choose not to give up something but rather to give more to something that honors God like praying more or giving time weekly to those in need.  Still others incorporate a regular time of fasting during the 40 days of Lent .  Whether it's one meal a day or a day a week without food, the practice of fasting is one way we show God our focus is on Him. 

To be totally honest, God loves you just as much whether you give up something for Lent, give more to something during Lent or remain in the same pattern of life you were in before Lent started.  The point isn't to win more of God's favor - for Him to give us extra credit points because of our sacrifice.  We can never out give God's giving of His only son. 

The point of Lent isn't about us changing God's view of us by "cleaning up, giving up, or giving away more good things to others".  The point of Lent is take our eyes off ourselves and onto God.  It's about recognizing God's place in our lives.  It's about refocusing our left of the middle line way of living the other 325 days of the year to the person who created the world, gives us life and gave us His son, Jesus. 

If we give up anything, it should mostly just be ourselves to God.  That's really what God wants anyway - our whole hearts not just 40 days of non-caffeinated chocolate free living.

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