(Contemplating the Cross
devotionals link below)
My best friend in the 4th grade was a member of a devout Catholic family – they never ate meat on Fridays, and faithfully embraced the Lenten season by giving up various and sundry things. Though as a Baptist girl I was often intrigued by the ways they practiced their faith, I never could figure out how my friend’s sacrificing gum for forty days honored the death of Jesus on a Cross.
After celebrating Lent for myself for a couple of decades now, I’ve begun to understand their Lenten practices a little better, and realize that like many religious rituals from my own past, the true nature and purpose of the event may have gotten lost along the way.
Lent actually has a colored history, with controversy about how it originated, how long it is to be and what a Lenten fast is to consist of. But today believers from all streams would agree that Lent is a to be a season of soul-searching and repentance, a time to reflect and prepare our hearts for a fresh revelation of Christ’s redeeming love.
In Day One of the prayer pilgrimage from my book, Contemplating the Cross, I wrote:
The journey to the cross is one of introspection. It is a time for mourning over the sins we have committed that nailed Jesus there. In Scripture ashes were often a sign of repentance. Many people begin their journey to the cross on Ash Wednesday (first day of the Lenten season) by having a cross of ashes put on their foreheads to symbolize their repentance of sin and need for a Savior (Job 42:6, Jeremiah 6:26, Matthew 11:21).
I have come to love Lenten seasons for the opportunity they provide for me to pull away from the noise and busyness of the world, to change my normal patterns and focus more intensely on the reason for my existence – the glory of Christ, who gave His life for me.
Our family has celebrated it in many different ways through the years – from different types of food fasts to things as simple as fasting from TV and radio. In each case the purpose has been the same. We lay aside something that has meaning to us in order to pursue a greater gain in the presence and person of Jesus, our Lord.
Often we have used the devotionals from my book, reading them aloud to each other, observing moments of silence and then taking turns praying. Many have shared with me that reading the narratives together as a family greatly impacted them and made Easter the most meaningful they’d ever had.
When my son was younger, I provided him with a journal and a sketchpad to write verses and prayers or to draw pictures of the things on his heart as we read. It is a great way to teach our children the beauty of contemplation in God’s presence (and ourselves as well!)
If you’ve never celebrated the Lenten season in some special way, I want to encourage you to make plans to do so – I can guarantee you will be glad you did. The Lord loves to reveal Himself to those who seek His face by focusing on what the cross of Calvary really means.
This year Lent begins on FEBRUARY 22 and ends on April 7. Traditionally Sundays are not considered part of Lent, since Sundays symbolize the resurrection. This explains why the actual time Lent is forty-five days instead of forty.
I pray you will walk through this very blessed season with a greater awareness of the amazing love on Calvary and the price Christ paid to restore the glory of His name in hearts and lives throughout history and across the globe.
If you'd like to follow my book, Contemplating the Cross, click here for the daily devotional links. Or if you prefer a hard copy, or one for your Kindle or IPAD, they are available on Amazon.