Today Lent begins and we begin to prepare our hearts for Easter. Lent is a special time of prayer, penance, sacrifice and good works in preparation of the greatest celebration of all–Easter. Many people though tend to focus on sacrifice during this time—i.e., what to give up?
I met a woman a few years ago who joked with me saying that “For Lent I give up nagging my husband.” I guess after Lent, it’s all bets are off. Hmm…I wonder is God more pleased with what we deny ourselves or what we give to Him? Perhaps the answer is “It depends…it depends on what we are denying ourselves…it depends what we are giving to God.”
I look to the Scriptures for guidance “Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.” Joel 2:12-13
“To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.” Proverbs 21:3
“My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” Psalm 51:17
As I reflect on this Scripture I know that God wants first and foremost true contrition for our sins, but how do we arrive at this place of true contrition? Well I think it takes a real hard look at our lives, the choices we are making, the choices we are not making. We need to reflect on our priorities, our relationships, our attitudes etc.
This reflection can’t happen unless we allow ourselves to become quiet. “Be still, and know that I am God…”Psalm 46:10
Food for thought: Consider creating some really special time with God in the next 40 days. Put that time on your calendar. Anticipate it and treasure it. Have a heart-to-heart with Jesus and trust that He will speak to you through the power of your conscience, through the power of the Holy Spirit living within you. During this time meditate on His Passion, for there is no greater way to understand how much He loves you. See Him dying on the Cross for you and ask yourself is my life giving Jesus glory? Am I listening to His inspiration or am I listening to my own desires? Am I living to do His will or my will?
Can you imagine a relationship that thrives without communication? So this Lent you can give up chocolate or wine or whatever your culinary preferences are, but this may not move you closer to God. But spend time with Him and I know for sure, with great confidence, that Jesus will caress your heart and illuminate your mind and help you to become the person He wants you to be. Take comfort in His great love. He has designs to perfect you, but like the perfect gentleman God will not intrude on your life. Make some special time for Him! He loves you so much!