On March 5th, we at Sojourn church will be joining in with millions of Christians across the globe to partake in Lent. On the Christian calendar, Lent (from Latin, meaning “fortieth”) is the forty days beginning Ash Wednesday (March 5th) and leading up to Easter Sunday (April 20th). The purpose of Lent is first and foremost about the gospel making its way deeper into our lives and shaping us as we look to remember the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Here is the scoop, there are many who grew up only equating Lent to the fabric found in your belly button. Others grew up forced to involuntarily abstain from good food that they never desired to abstain from. Still others have fond memories of this season leading up to Easter. Knowing that the 3 people who read this may have different backgrounds, I want to address two questions: what is the point of fasting and how can you jump on board with lent this year?
What is the point of fasting?
Lent is a season of abstaining/fasting to create space to more intentionally seek Jesus.
Fasting is the spiritual discipline of voluntarily giving up food for some period of time for the purpose of intentionally seeking Jesus. It isn’t designed to pay God back because you feel guilty for not following through on your new years resolution. During Lent, some people fast a meal (No lunch on Wednesdays during lent), some fast for a day or more (Fasting on Tuesdays during lent), some fast a certain kind of food (Sweets or chocolate - but it is only effective if you actually enjoy these foods).
Similar to fasting, abstaining is the practice of giving up something other than food in order to focus more intentionally on the Lord, i.e. FaceBook, Instagram, TV, Netflix….
Some helpful tips to jump on board with Lent:
I encourage anyone who wants to grow with Jesus to participate in this Lent season at some level. Whether you are a newbie or a regular faster, all are welcome to partake in this season. Here are a few steps to start this journey:
1. Ask God if there is anything you should abstain/fast from, if you feel Him lead you a certain way then do it.
2. If you don’t feel Him leading you a certain way, just pick something.
3. The goal of these forty days isn’t dieting, but creating space to intentionally pursue God. So in this season, use your abstaining/fasting to carve out time to pray, journal, read, or invite your neighbors over for dinner.
4. Don’t give up. There is a good chance that you will fall on your face and screw up along the way. If this happens, press delete, don’t put yourself in “time-out”, run to Jesus and keep on trucking. Remember that Sunday’s in Lent are “mini-Resurrection days” which means you can eat what you want.
5. During Lent, be aware of God’s involvement in your life. God isn’t a genie, but He does honor times that we dial down our cravings to more intentionally seek Him. Be open to what He may be doing in you.
6. Here are a few helpful tools that will aid you along the way: An Easter Devotional by Ann Voscamp and Journey to the Cross by The Gospel Coalition.
May God meet you in a refreshing way during this Lent season,