This past Wednesday, I decided to dig into an area of religion that I normally shy away from. I’ve heard people use the word “Lent” my entire life. Most of them were Catholic, Methodist or something similar. I never really knew what they were talking about and honestly never thought too much about it. I just knew that my traditional Southern Baptist roots didn’t include this ritual.
Then for some reason, it hit me differently this year. I wanted to know about it. What it is, why it’s celebrated, and what the purpose is behind it.
In a nutshell, this is what my mind has gleaned:
Factually, Lent is a 40-day period before Easter, beginning on Ash Wednesday and ending on the day before Easter Sunday. In case you've never noticed, the number forty was a big deal in the Bible. Whether it was 40 days, weeks, or years, it was always a necessary season of struggle, unrest, wandering, and growth before something amazing occurred. I relate this closely with both pregnancies with my children... Forty weeks of sickness, aches, fatigue, and struggle; yet, something miraculous was created and birthed from those incredibly tough months.
Symbolically, Lent is more than just a time of fasting and discipline. It’s a season of reflecting, searching, and repenting. We spiritually imitate Jesus’ withdrawal into the wilderness for forty days, and use the same tactics modeled by Him-- prayer and fasting.
So what does Lent look like for me?
Even though, as far as I know, the Bible doesn’t mention anything specific about the custom of Lent, it does speak of fasting, mourning, repentance, and the like. I have committed to observing this season, identifying myself with Christ in His wilderness journey. I need these 40 days to wrestle, learn, dig, grow... and especially to refocus on my relationship with my Savior.
It’s my fourth day into this journey, and I’m already thankful I chose to walk this path. My specific fast from desserts and sugary treats/drinks is proving to be a much-needed challenge. I look forward to what will be birthed through this forty-day season of retreating and reflecting.
What does Lent look like for you? Do you celebrate this custom? Why or why not?