Not only a Time to “Give Up”, but a Time to “Add”
Do you celebrate Lent? It is the forty days before Easter. I grew up in a Bible church, but never was encouraged to celebrate Lent. I think it was viewed as “something that Catholics do.” I never really understood the value of it until I introduced it to my children as they started to reach their teenage years. At that point, it somehow became a time to give up sweets, cut down on computer games and what not. But many of those habits and indulgences can be relinquished, but do nothing for our spiritual lives.
I would like to encourage you today that Lent is not only a time to “give up”
but also a time to “add.”
We eliminate because it signifies we are identifying with Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. This is very important, but we must know that nothing we can give up will measure even close to the sacrifices of Christ. It is good, however, because many times we realize that we don’t really need those things in our life anyway, and it causes us to remember His sacrifice so much more.
It could be that your life is so difficult right now that you cannot imagine anything you can give up. I have friends in many parts of the world where life is so difficult that they do not have any indulgences to eliminate. Perhaps this is you. If so, don’t worry about that. The point of this article is to find spiritual enlightenment through more time with God. If you are poor, you may spend a lot of time worrying about life’s problems and necessities. Lent is a good time to focus on prayer and the sacrifice of Christ, giving all your misfortunes and fears to Him. Did you know the most often repeated command in all of the Bible is “Do not fear!”? Jesus spoke a lot about the poor, and there is a special place in the heart of God for the needy. God will take care of you!
If you really desire a spiritual transformation during Lent, it is a great time to start new habits that can last a lifetime. I suggest eliminating something that will free up more time in your schedule and add something that causes you to spend more time with God. Social media, computer games, etc. is a good one because many of us waste a lot of time on these. Or, you may spend a lot of time eating out or on escapades of leisurely activity, and some of them can be missed and substituted with more time for God. I am sure that when we think about our lives, we can find many time wasters and replace them with Bible reading, prayer, and giving to others. As you read this, you probably have several things that come to mind. Take action on these and use them to revitalize your walk with Christ. (Luke 9:23-27)
Mystical Union with Christ
There is a mystical union between us and God, which we cannot fully understand, that takes place when we participate in the commands of Christ. This union is demonstrated most clearly when we pray, read scripture, take the sacraments, and give to the needy. (Colossians 4:2, Philippians 4:6, Mark 14:22-24, Matthew 25:31-40)
Here is one more way of thinking about it. Remember all the time we spend on getting ready for Christmas – which usually includes a lot of decorating and shopping? Well, Easter is a far greater holiday, yet we spend hardly any time preparing for it – aside from buying and eating a lot of chocolate! As we reflect upon the time spent at Christmas, imagine if we spend that much time preparing ourselves spiritually for Easter?!! Wow! It could be incredible!
This Lent make time with the Creator of the universe!!! He is waiting for you!!
If you don’t know what to do to spend more time with God, Bible reading and prayer are the way to go!! If you go to YouVersion.com, they have a list of daily readings they can send to your email box each day. For a straight Bible reading, the book of Mark is great!! You can also do readings designed for Lent. Here is a link to YouVersion Lent readings: http://blog.youversion.com/2015/02/6-bible-plans-to-help-you-connect-during-lent/. I suggest Lent for Everyone, but I suppose the others are good also. If you are behind, don’t worry just continue until after Easter! Also, there is a book by the great Dietrich Bonhoeffer called God is on the Cross.
WHEN YOUR BIBLE IS OPEN, GOD’S MOUTH IS OPEN,
AND WHEN YOU PRAY, YOUR HEART IT OPEN!!!