The Focus of Lent
During the season of Lent many people want to do something good for themselves or for others, spiritually or physically. There are people who seek to be closer with God. For these people Lent is observed with fasting, prayers, bible study, acts of kindness, acts of charity, and repentance. Pastors and churches are committed to one or more of these within the 40 days of Lent beginning from Ash Wednesday to Palm Sunday. The same people from churches may take a step farther to use this time to observe abstinence for health reasons and self-improvement such as eating a proper diet or fasting of certain food or drink, limited use of internet and phone, weight loss, exercise and others.
These observances are commendable, good for the soul and the body, and the church’s strength and witnesses. Perhaps there is another way we can focus differently during Lent, in a more original sense as it was in the beginning. Jesus was in the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights for a reason. In the time of the Exodus, Moses went up to Mt. Sinai for the same period of time with no food and drink for a reason. For Moses, it was to receive the Ten Commandments. For Jesus, it was a test of readiness and preparation to serve. In both cases the requirement to accomplish its purpose calls for tremendous sacrifice, trust, and humility.
In its original sense, Lent is really about a time of critical discernment or preparation for service and discipleship, or a time to improve our faith and services. I can even think of it as a time of deep soul-searching or spiritual discipline to overcome our spiritual warfare. So when we do bible study, fasting, or prayer, we have a purpose in mind. What is your purpose for observing Lent this year? My hope is that you have something to improve, even to achieve. But most importantly, I hope you observe Lent as a time to improve your service and deepen your relationship with God and your neighbors.
God of love and God of power, I pray for the courage to stand against any barriers or obstacles that may hinder my service to you. Grant me understanding of your holy words this time of Lent. Help me to trust you in time of trials and give me a heart of humility that I may worship you and serve you. Amen.