We are now at about the half way point in the Lenten season. There are 3 more weeks until Good Friday and I wanted to send out a little check in note. If you chose to add something or abstain from something how is it going? In the past I have found Lent decisions to be kind of like New Year’s resolutions. I’m enthusiastic about it for a couple weeks or so and then it becomes less intentional until I forget about it. 40 days can be long. And if I break a fast during Lent I can feel an extra layer of guilt because I let God down or just give up because “Now that I’ve broken my commitment I suppose there’s no use continuing for the rest of the time”. This is where I have to remind myself that it was never about me to begin with. It was never about what I did or didn’t do or if I did or didn’t do it perfectly. It is about Jesus and the grace offered to us on the cross and the freedom in his resurrection. Period.
I did something different for Lent this year…normally I wouldn’t talk about it but I think it may be helpful for some people out there. My personality tends towards perfectionism and I can very easily be caught in the trap of legalism and somehow thinking that I am “earning” my way. It is easier for me to live in a black and white world with rules that need to be followed and consequences if they are broken. It is much harder for me to accept and rest in the gray/grace filled world God offers. This year for Lent I gave up alcohol…but not completely. Most of the time I choose not to drink but I have allowed myself to pick one day during the week to have drinks with friends. Some people may not think I am actually observing a Lenten fast…I do…and honestly that’s all that matters. When I choose to abstain from alcohol I am absolutely reminded of Jesus’ sacrifice and my dependence on him. When I choose to have some drinks with friends (and if I’m honest I felt a little guilty about it at first – like I was doing something wrong) I am reminded of the gift of grace and that it is absolutely NOT about me. The word that best describes this season for me this year is Freedom and it has been such a blessing.
So, I can say this…wherever you are at…maybe you are diligently observing your Lenten commitments…Maybe you started strong and lost focus…Maybe you never made any commitments. It’s not about you and it is never too late to start. There is nothing magic about the full 40 days. It is about making an intentional effort to prepare your heart for Easter. You can start (or restart) now… It is ultimately about recognizing the price Jesus paid for your life and the freedom that brings.