Tuesday February 25 2020

Journey to the Cross

Lent (from the Latin, meaning “fortieth”) is the 40 days beginning on Ash Wednesday (26 February 2020) and leading up to Easter Sunday (12 April 2020). 

There are different views on Lent but this season can serve any Christian as a journey of self-reflection and self-denial that prepares the believer for Holy Week, leading to Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. 

Throughout this period Christians are invited to examine themselves as they remember the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus on their behalf. It’s also a time for setting aside our past sins and failures in light of the blessed future hope of who we will become by God’s grace. Kendal Haug and Will Walker argue Lent is “first and foremost about the gospel making its way deeper into our lives.”

At the onset of Jesus’ ministry, John announced his coming in fulfilment of Isaiah 40: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” This is the cry of Lent: Prepare the way of the Lord! Make room for him in your thoughts and activities and affections.

An appropriate response to this announcement is to take stock of our lives, to reconsider how we’re living in light of God’s presence and power made available to us in Jesus. And that’s what Lent is for: to reflect on our lives as they are, and as they could be.

The desire is a new lease on life, a view into the vast world of God, a deep breath and long look above the tree line of self-absorption. So in Lent we focus on getting away from the life of flesh and into the life of the Spirit, denying our ways and embracing God’s.

The point of giving things up isn’t to be reminded of how much we miss them, but rather to be awakened to how much we miss God and long for his life-giving Spirit. This means, of course, that Lent isn’t only about giving up things. It’s also about adding things, God-things.

  • Having given up Facebook, to whom will you devote meaningful conversation?
  • Having given up lunch, how will you rely on God for the strength of “food from heaven”?
  • Having given up TV as a default activity, how will you use that time to cultivate quality family time?
  • Having given up junk food for a healthy diet, what will you do with the energy you gain?
  • Having sacrificed whatever form of selfishness you indulge, how will you meet the needs of others?

The practice of giving something up for Lent is a way of entering into the wilderness with Jesus. Don’t worry about whether your sacrifice is a good one. It’s not a contest. Just make your aim to know Christ more fully, and trust Him to lead you. Seek to replace that thing with devotion to Christ—His Word and His mission. God may lead you to give up and take up more as you go. That’s good. Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus. – Excerpts from Matt Smethurst.