I grew up in a church tradition that focused on Lent. We were not consistent church attenders, and our family did not particularly practice anything at home in honor of Lent, but the concept of Lent was real and recognized. We always chose something to give up during Lent. Then we always went to church on Easter Sunday in new dresses our mother had made for my sisters and me.
As I came to Christ in my teen years and later attended a less liturgical church, I mostly forgot about Lent. But in recent years I have been reminded of what a treasure it is for my spiritual life.
Yes, it is a time to “give up” something. Sometimes it is food, like sweets, or something like TV, or crossword puzzles. These are not bad things, but the denying myself is a helpful spiritual practice. I’ve also found it is good to “add to” my life with a practice that also reminds me of all that Christ has added to my life. So I might do a daily devotional, or give to a charity, or pray for particular people. I always ask God to guide me.
So what is the real meaning of Lent? It is a time to express our repentance for our sins in preparation for recognizing the truth of Bad Friday/Good Friday. It was certainly a difficult day for our Savior as He took on Himself all our sins—the sins of the whole world—and was separated from His Father in paying the penalty for those sins. And Good Friday—it represents great good news for us—our sins are washed away, forgiven, buried, paid for!!
And then we celebrate. Easter is the holiest day of all—Jesus overcame death and rose again to live forever—and to make the same available to us!
Lent represents for me one of the most wonderful truths about our God—His mercy. He hates our sin, and exacts a great penalty for it—death, separation from Him. But His mercy drove Him to provide a way for forgiveness, reconciliation, restoration!
His mercy flows through the entire Bible. My focus this Lenten season will be on that mercy so generously extended to me—and to you. So each day during Lent I will post a reminder of His mercy on Facebook and Twitter.
Please join me in gratefully acknowledging and walking in His abundant mercy.
“…to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” ( prophecy about Jesus in Luke 1:77-79)
What about you? What does God’s mercy mean to you?
c2012 Judy Douglass