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Craving Lent

I crave Lent like a child craves sugary treats. Odd, I know. Do I crave Lent or does my soul, my lifestyle, and my home need Lent? 

After the feasting, consumerism, and hustle of the Christmas season, I yearn to go inward. I yearn to simplify. I yearn to step back and meditate on where God is leading.

Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving resemble rules which are uninvitingly enforced by others. Since these guidelines are viewed as strict regulations they’re often scrutinized and seen as burdens. Others view them as a gift. Consequently, what we view as rules, God institutes an occasion to invoke a pause for growth, service, and holiness. 

Much like a child needs an education, which he views as a rule, we need the rhythms and pauses of Lent. It’s true that if that child never gets to the heart of the matter (a love of learning), he may not flourish educationally. We can choose to just abide by rules (which is still good), or embrace the guidelines set before us invoking the abundance God desires for us. 

Jesus did come to fulfill the law, not abolish it (based on Matthew 5:17). Accordingly, these recommendations are balm for the soul if viewed as the treasure they are meant to be. 

Pray, fast, and give alms during Lent. I translate as go the extra mile. Where have we grown comfortable in our daily walk with Christ?

Several years ago, when my girls were young (Rose and Magdalena), we knew of a family who got in a car accident. It was March and Lent had just begun. Two out of three girls from that family died that day. The girls were my girls’ age. I could not shake their loss. I grieved for them, thought about it constantly, and imagined “how I would go on” after that kind of tragedy. We prayed hard, sent them a card (we didn’t know them-it was a connection from others), and I finally recovered. It's been over a decade since that family suffered. I don’t know where they are, or what their life looks like now. Yet, every single Lent since then, God has placed them on my heart. I still pray for them during Lent. 

Pray deeply for a specific intention God places on your heart during Lent.

Fasting is hard. Why fast? We might have the right motives. We might not. Fasting may be large or small. Thankfully, God honors all our efforts. We fast with prayerful purpose because we are attached.  

Fast from something you need to release this Lent. Something that’s not serving your walk with Christ. 

Webster’s Dictionary defines almsgiving  as “something (such as money or food) given freely to relieve the poor.” We typically consider this an opportunity to go above and beyond our normal 10% tithe. Why? Why not? It’s an opportunity to live life as an offering. One year my daughter considered how to go the extra mile. We handed out $5 bills (now we stash Subway cards in our car to give away) to those we saw in need. 

Give alms in one small way this Lent. Allow God to lead the way and show you how to serve.

We yearn for heart, yet we can’t live without the law. We’re similar to a child in many ways. We forget easily, we embark on the easy path, and we rebel out of discouragement or boredom or whatever. We all do at times. That’s our human nature. 

We train our bodies because discipline is necessary. Lent guides the training of our spiritual life. We train all year long through prayer, Church, Bible studies, etc. Yet sloppiness seeps in. Lent draws us back, not to perfection, but rather to inward discernment if we accept the gift to dive deep. The rhythms of the Church are fashioned for our good. Lent is wedged into the heart of winter consummated by Spring and Easter. Not as a rule that must be obeyed but rather an opportunity to embrace a deeper love story. 

According to St. Catherine of Siena, “Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring.” God invites us to go beyond the law, to embrace His goodness in and through the beautiful rhythms of the Church. I crave Lent not because I’m excited to self-examen, fast, or step out of my comfort zone. Yet I know I was made for more, I was made to seek God and the discipline of Lent aids that. Happy Lent!


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