Lent has not yet begun and already I’m thinking about it. Which I suppose is the point.
I have high ambitions for the Lenten season this year. My partner and I will be observing the season together. The plan is for me to go 40 days without texting, and for us to go without TV or movies, without pastry products. Additionally, I have this idea to actually give away 40 items from my possessions.
Lent has become a meaningful and refreshing season for me and something I look forward to every year. Invariably, my body and mind feel fresher, cleaner, my whole self feels sharper, and I save on text messages.
I want to be careful, though, of making this season just another routine. More than that, I want Lent to be more than just that time of year when you go without stuff.
My understanding is that Lent is meant for reflection and devotion. These 40 days of abstinence are meant to help me better understand and identify with the sufferings of Christ. More than simple abstinence, something I have to think about.
Towards that end, I’ve been on a pre-Lent journey, figuring out what questions I want to ask. Here’s what I’m thinking.
I find that I’m really attached to life. I like being alive! I don’t particularly want to die, not because I’m afraid of death but because that will mean I’m no longer around in the world to see what happens. Maybe it comes from writing a novel set 200 years in the future, but I actually would really love to still be around in 200 years to see how things turn out! I forget that life is short on purpose and that there’s a very important after life to consider. I forget that this afterlife can potentially be spent in the marvelous presence of Jesus where there is no more sorrow, no more fear, no more loneliness or anything bad. I forget this because, when I’m firmly rooted in tangible life, everything after-life feels…abstract.
My first question, then, is of Jesus… “How are you better than all these other things?”
I find that Jesus is very real…in a cognitive and historical sense. Also sometimes in an intimidating way. “Jesus died to save your sins so you’d better be right with Him or else you’re gonna rot in eternal darkness!” Truth be told, often I’m intimidated by God, even afraid of Him, because of that whole judgement factor. I know that the incarnation in Christ was meant to be the bridge between me and a Holy God and that because of Jesus, I shouldn’t have to be afraid of God. Yet often I am and I don’t know what it is to love God. I don’t always know what it is to love Jesus. I can and do really admire Him for who He is, what He does, for resplendence, beauty, generosity, benevolence and marvelous spring days…but I don’t know if that’s love. I hear people talking about Jesus like a lover and even writing Him songs and see them having emotional experiences, and all that seems foreign.
I would like to know what it is to love the Savior. My question, then, is, “How is Jesus precious?”
A third question has to do with provision. Practical daily bread provision. Emotional comfort. Spiritual peace. Companionship to soothe a frustrated sexuality. Again, I’ve heard of others saying that they can live through any type of frustration and disappointment because of what Jesus gives them in their souls. I know a little about this, but I will need to know more. My life feels very intimidating to me, especially when I consider maintaining it for the rest of my life. I don’t know if I can, but I wonder if in Jesus, maybe the task is not impossible.
My final Lenten question then, is for all of the Trinity… “How are you sufficient for me, day by day, moment by moment?”
These things will take some though. Good thing I have 40 days…
Join me for the journey! Share your thoughts with me, what you learn.
Tell me how Christ is better than all your things.
Tell me how Jesus is precious to you.
Tell me of God is sufficient for you.