Like Sabbath, Lent is made for man, not man for Lent. Like Sabbath, there are many and varied opinions on what it means and ways to observe Lent. I’ve pondered and prayed about Lent over the past few years, and I have gotten away from the notion of making it a punishment. Lent is about growing, and that may mean doing some weeding so growth is unhindered.
Whether you believe the forty days of Lent are based on Israel’s years in the desert, Christ’s days of fasting in the Judaean Desert, or His hours in the grave, all three have one thing in common. They are about healing and growing nearer to God. Lent should be about the same. It is a time for reflection, prayer, and turning my heart toward Christ’s precious love, death, and resurrection.
I will be in the midst of a move during Lent, so I’ve started sorting my belongings. I’ve been through this process four times in the past thirteen years, and each time I come away feeling a little lighter. I’m moving into a small apartment in town, so I’m having to do some serious purging. I’m giving up anything that doesn’t fit into my new home, and I plan to do the same thing with my heart.
Jesus went into the Judaean Desert to be tempted for forty days and nights, and He didn’t get a break on Sunday the way we do during Lent.
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry.” (Matthew 4:1-2 NLT)
I am struck by the fact that Christ came away from the desert very hungry. I think the point of Lent is to bring my heart to a point of great hunger. As a teacher, I loved seeing my students hunger for knowledge. I hunger for it myself. I pray I will always have that hunger, but I pray this Lenten season brings a new hunger to my heart, a hunger for Him.