I meant to post this yesterday, on Ash Wednesday, but somehow things got away from me. Anyways, here are some of my Lenten thoughts.
I’ve never been a fan of penitence–I mean, who is? Not that I don’t feel regret or remorse for the bad things I’ve done, for the ways I’ve hurt people. I do. But just the word “penitence” makes me think of a “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” sermon with fiery warnings of Hell and scare tactics.
I am not drawn to a God of anger, but a God of Love. I serve a Savior whose Law is Love and whose Gospel is Peace.
I don’t really know what to make of substitutionary atonement, but it’s easy for me to see I’m messed up. I’m selfish. I’m prideful. I’m apathetic of others’ pain and hurt. It’s easy to believe the wages of sin is death. I sow seeds of death every day.
And the only antidote is Love. Is Love Himself come down among us, with us. The only answer to this messed up world we live in, to the grains of anger that lead to war and genocide and torture and all of things I could never imagine doing because I have a hard enough time watching crime shows or Fight Club, the only antidote to all of this is the complete opposite of hate and revenge, bitterness and vengeance. It’s Love.
And I see that in the life of Christ. The life of a man who prayed for and forgave his enemies, not just the distant “them” enemies, but the very enemies who killed him. The ones right in front of him. I see this hope, this love, this answer in the life of a man who served others and chose powerlessness and integrity over power for his own gain. Who healed the sick and gave sight to the blind and set the captives free. Who chose sacrificial love to the point of death. Who showed an alternate way to live and be in this world.
This Lenten season I want to set aside time and prayer and energy to be more like Jesus. Isn’t that, after all, what Lent’s about?
Ann Voskamp writes, “Lent isn’t about forfeiting as much as it’s about formation.”
This Lent I want to be formed. I want to cultivate compassion in my heart and actions. To choose the way of sacrifice and rebellion against self-interest. To retreat into the presence of the Father when I become overwhelmed. To draw my strength not from the esteem of man, but from the One who has called me blessed. Who has called me to continue His works. Whose hearts breaks even more than mine for the injustice and poverty and horror in this world. Whose heart breaks for every tear that falls.
This Lenten season I have decided to give something up. In years past I’ve been vegan or given up desserts or diet Coke or gum for Lent. This year, I will be giving up tv–well Netflix to be exact. With my new volunteer job and ongoing freelance responsibilities, I don’t have as much time to waste watching Netflix, but I still find myself turning to the comfort of tuning out to English language episodes whenever I’m bored, tired, lonely.
For the next six weeks, when I find myself bored or tired or lonely, I will choose, instead, to spend that time either in prayer or in connecting with the people around me or praying for the people I love who are far from me. I will engage. I will not disconnect. I will sit still in the presence of the Lord and allow Him to speak. Allow Him to form me. I will turn to Love.
Are you giving up anything for Lent? What do you hope to gain?
For more ideas on how to engage, reflect, and prepare for the Lenten season, check out Rachel Held Evans’ 40 Ideas for Lent compiled with the input of her blog readers.