Growing up as a Charismatic, evangelical preacher's kid, I always associated Lent with legalism and eating fish. But a few years ago I was feeling like I didn't really grasp the joy of my salvation - you know...just coasting through life...taking most things for granted. Most Sundays felt the same, and Easter was basically just a super-fun Sunday when I got to wear a new dress. I didn't like my relationship with Easter and I was aware that I needed a wake-up call to remind myself of the magnitude of Christ's sacrifice.
So, I started researching Lent - the 40 days leading up to Easter - and decided I would try observing it. I did my best to really observe it that year. I went to an Ash Wednesday service (I stood out like a sore thumb unsure of when to stand and when to get my ashes); I learned about days like Maundy Thursday, Good Friday; and I fasted as best I could. That year, Easter was markedly different in my life. I wept in our services and my heart was full of such love, joy, and gratitude for what Christ had done for me.
I discovered that I need structure and discipline in my walk with the Lord, and that it is good to set aside times to fast and focus. I've continued to observe Lent ever-since even though several in my community of faith seem to think it a bit odd. For me, it connects me to the reality of the cross...to the truth that I NEED Him daily and to the joy of what He has done for me. It has looked different every year, but I try to set aside 40 days to fast and focus on Him.
Lent begins tomorrow with Ash Wednesday, and this year I've decided to join Margaret Feinberg's 40 Day #LentChallenge of reading through the New Testament. It's basically reading 7 chapters a day, and Josh and I are going to do it together. Maybe you should join us!
If you'd like more information about this challenge, you can read all about it at Margaret's blog here.