A Look at the Heart of Lent

This week, the Church turned its calendar to Lent. This is a season near to my heart and walk as a believer. If you’re unfamiliar with the Church calendar, it’s simply a way for believers to structure our seasons and offers us an opportunity to mark our days by the life of Christ.

Observing Lent isn’t a requirement commanded in scripture. Rather, it’s a rhythm developed by the early Church to realign the posture of our hearts as we prepare for Easter. Lent is a slow, still season of remembrance and repentance as we look to the life of Jesus leading up to His death and resurrection.

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and concludes with Holy Week, the final week before Easter Sunday. It’s a season spanning 40 days with Sundays serving as feast days (46 days total). Congregations observe Lent in various ways, but the overarching purpose of Lent is to return, repent and remember the life of Jesus Christ.

God beckons each of us to a quiet, reflective season of fasting and repentance. Every person will approach Lent differently just as congregations do. It’s a personal time in the walk of a believer that can’t be compared to one another.

Jesus' cross at Calvary made a way for us to return to the Father. So, we return in acknowledging our sin nature and remembering that we fall short of the glory of God but are justified by his grace as a gift through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:23)

As we return, we enter into the refining practice of repentance. We humbly bring our sin before God in confession and turn toward Him with our whole hearts (Joel 2:12). We repent and turn to Him not to dwell in despair, but so times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:19-20). Lent is an invitation to sit in the tension of the weight of our sin and the depth of His grace.

There’s always much talk about giving up something during Lent. The practice of self-denial or fasting isn’t one we should take on flippantly. It's an opportunity to intentionally fast from things of the world to feast on the Word of God and work of Christ. Through prayer and supplication we should seek personal discernment for how God wants us to observe Lent.

Fasting and self-denial are practiced during this season to reflect and engage with Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness. It’s not a time to outdo your brother or sister in Christ. It’s a personal conviction the Lord will be faithful to reveal if you ask Him. Fasting or self-denial is an opportunity to elevate Christ over self.

“For every look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ.” Robert Murray M'Cheyne

Through spiritual disciplines and quiet reflection God uses the season of Lent to renew our minds, transform our hearts and restore us to the joy of His salvation.

My pastor once challenged us to begin each day at Calvary. Can I renew this challenge to us during this season of Lent? As our feet hit the ground each morning may we be a people whose eyes are fixed on the Cross.

"After all it is meant to be the church's springtime, a time when, out of the darkness of sin's winter, a repentant, empowered people emerges." Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter