Lent begins today, a 40-day journey toward Easter.
I didn’t grow up in the tradition of practicing Lent. It’s only been in the last 10 years I have paid attention to the idea of giving something up, laying something down or limiting myself in an area of excess in my life.
I’m currently reading the Gospel of Mark and this morning I read Mark 8:34-35.
Then He called the crowd to Him along with His disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.”
In our culture we have a bit more of satisfying our wants more than denying our wants.
Denying ourselves looks a lot like it’s-not-about-me.
And that’s difficult.
- My waiting in line at Aldi while the cashier gabs away with customers instead of scanning items in an efficient-like manner kind of gets at me.
- My frustration with electronics not working as fast as I’d like gets at me.
- My annoyance with others not following through with commitments gets at me.
- My struggle of keeping my cool when my anger is hot gets at me.
All of these areas reveal my own issue of dealing with the “me” that gets in my way toward the cross.
Jesus calls us to – Deny ourselves and take up the ideas and areas where He’s calling us. Follow His example, follow His direction, follow His way of doing things.
So those ways of wanting my way are not going to work in His way of doing things. His way asks for self-denial, a laying down of those areas that get in my way of moving toward Him.
- What, in my attitude, do I need to lay down?
- Where do I need to let things go and pick up Christ’s way instead?
- How should I change my response to those areas that get at me?
During this season of Lent some people deny themselves food or drink. Others deny themselves time-eaters like social-media or Netflix. These can be good ways of practicing self-control and putting our emphasis on seeking Christ’s way in our lives.
I try and look at this time with prayerful examination of my own life.
For these 40 days, Lord, what do you want of me? In what area of my life is my way getting in Your way? Is my way crowding my soul and leaving little room for You? Help me, Lord, give up my way and those things that get me side-tracked. Help me clear more room for You in my life.
These deny yourself journeys can be life-altering and meaningful growth seasons for us.
When we intentionally give up our way and pick up His way instead, we are changed and we grow.
Now that’s not to say it’s easy change because we all like to have our way – that’s our human nature. But change is good. Mixing it up causes us stable people — who like all things in our control and calm and in right order — to be jostled a bit. In the jostling and giving up, we find out the world still spins, things get done and work out even when it’s not done my way. The jostling of ideas and letting go of our way reminds us He’s in control and we can trust Him with the ordering of our world.
In these days of denying ourselves we may find the cross to be heavier at times. Some days we may fail to pick it up altogether. This journey of letting go isn’t about perfection but about process. The process of laying down our way and choosing His way isn’t instantaneous but it is transformational.
At the end of this journey toward Easter, I pray we find ourselves more like Him. May we find more time for Him in our schedules and more ways of making it about Him and not-about-me.
Together, let’s move toward the cross and His way in our lives.
Here we go ~