Lent begins today!! Lent is a season when we prepare ourselves for celebrating Easter, the day of Christ’s resurrection and victory over sin and death. It is a season when we go to work so that we are ready to celebrate His victory. Lent is a season when we look within more often. We spend time in self-reflection to evaluate our faith. In this process we repent of all that separates us from or keeps us from being closer to God. We make sacrifices to draw closer to God. Some fast to draw closer to God. All of our practices in Lent must serve to draw us closer to God and to create in us that clean heart that will be acceptable in His sight.
The model we follow for Lent was established by Jesus. At the beginning of His ministry, after being baptized by John the Baptist, Jesus went into the wilderness for a period of forty days. In this time He fasted and prayed in order to prepare Himself for the testing that Satan would bring. This period of prayer and fasting strengthened His faith and relationship with God so that He could withstand the temptations of the devil. In our forty day journey to the cross, we too will be tempted.
In Isaiah 58 it speaks of fasting for the wrong reasons and lays out the correct reasons. In Lent, each practice can be done for impure reasons. All must be done to better connect to God and to prepare ourselves. At the start of Lent we must examine our inner being to determine if there are things in our lives we need to repent of and let go. In this period of self-reflection, sometimes we see that there is something we need to attend to more often as well. Maybe this entails taking on a special Lenten devotional or prayer study. Perhaps this means finding one more time to pray during each day. Maybe it means fasting once a week during Lent. Whether it is setting something aside or adding a new discipline, this sacrifice must draw us closer to God.
In Lent, as we go to work to draw closer to God, we must also draw closer to our fellow man. It is an inevitable consequence of drawing closer to God. As we grow in our love of God, our love of all He loves grows as well. Isaiah 58 speaks much of loving those in need. May our light too break forth as we seek to love those in need and to break the chains of oppression. May we too be pleasing in His sight on our Lenten journeys.
Scripture reference: Isaiah 58: 1-12