I knew it was coming but I’ve been in the throes of kidz church for the last few weeks and I’ve been lost in their age group. My world has been homeschooling, grading papers for quarterly reports, preparing for upcoming speaking events and all around ministry that I missed this whole thing of Lent beginning today.
Emily and I were doing our normal shopping yesterday. Well, actually we were ecstatic about shopping because hey, the sun was shining brightly, the wind wasn’t blowing profusely and my van reported the outside temp was a balmy 19 degrees. It’s practically a heat wave compared to the arctic tundra we’ve been living in lately. It was so warm that we did all our shopping with just an extra sweater because it was just too warm for a winter coat!
As we were driving through downtown, the radio announcer informed me, “Tomorrow is the beginning of Lent.” I turned to Emily and said, “Tomorrow is Lent?!?!” And she replied, “Yeah, Dad talked about it on Sunday.” Which again….lost in Kidz planning and execution. (Not of any kids mind you, just the plans.)
I instantly felt…well… behind.
- I haven’t prepared.
- I haven’t thought this through.
- What am I going to give up?
- What am I going to set aside for the next 40 days that will help me put my focus on God?
- What will I give of my own wants or needs to hear from Him what He wants of me?
This can be a struggle. And it should be. It’s a giving up of ourselves to remember and reflect on what He gave up for us.
By the time I was ready for bed last night I had narrowed down some things I was going to give up for Lent. One of them was sleep.
Now, before you get all crazy on me, I’m NOT giving up ALL sleep… just an extra hour in the morning. I’m waking an hour earlier to set aside more time for Him.
Looking at my life, there’s not much I could think of to “give up.” My time schedule is pretty much that… scheduled. So what is the most valuable thing I can give up? It’s my time. Giving up more of it to Him.
And believe me, sleep is a precious commodity in my world.
As I fell asleep last night, I felt pretty good. My mind rationalized, “This will be okay. I will just have to discipline myself to get to bed earlier so I can rise earlier. This is do-able… It should be fine.”
And it was all fine… until about 11:30 pm when the phone rang, waking me from my peaceful slumber. By 12:15 am, I was back asleep. At 2:25 am, Matt came in and asked for a drink of water. (In his whole existence of almost 6 years, he has never asked for a glass of water in the middle of the night.) At 4:45 am, my psychotic cell phone went off with all kinds of beeps and rings at full volume for no apparent reason. And as I muted my phone before it could wake my dear sleeping husband, I thought to myself, “What is going on?” and then I remembered, “It’s the beginning of Lent.”
This is what I have come to know: When you set your heart and mind towards a certain goal, there is going to be opposition.
Discipline and a giving up of ourselves takes a self-will and determination to press on despite obstacles or deterrents that come up against us. And with that Meet the Robinson’s famous quote, we must “Keep moving forward.”
So as we begin this Lenten season,
- What is there in your life that you can set aside or give up for 40 days that will turn your focus more on Him?
- What can you give up that will help you remember and reflect on what He gave up for you?
From past experience let me remind and encourage you that this giving up is not always easy but it’s always good. It’s good for our souls.
It’s a time for us to refocus our lives, reorient our direction and remember His giving up for us.
Let’s start together with a prayer.
Jesus, we thank you for your sacrifice. We thank you for the giving up of yourself to make a way for us to get to You. Now for these next 40 days, we give up of ourselves to come nearer to You. Help us, Lord, to focus on You more than on ourselves; to orientate our lives toward You more than our own agendas; and help us to remember that in this giving up these small things in our lives, it is nothing compared to Your sacrifice for us. Thank you for Your giving up for us. May what we give up for these next 40 days honor You and bring us nearer to Your heart and what You have for us. We love you, Jesus, and in Your name we pray, Amen.