Lent as defined by dictionary.com is an annual season of fasting and penitence in preparation for Easter, beginning on Ash Wednesday and lasting 40 weekdays to Easter.
Wikipedia defines Lent as the preparation of the believer for Easter through prayer, doing penance, mortifying the flesh, repentance of sins, alms giving, and self-denial.
As I was growing up, Lent was the absence of hallelujahs, hymns of joy, and certain liturgical responses in our worship services. For 40 days, all joyous worship music was put on a shelf and sorrow-filled songs were dusted off and sung. I grew up almost feeling guilty if I was happy or laughed during those 6 weeks. How could I smile when I was supposed to be focused on the tortured body of Jesus hanging on a cross-the enormous price paid on my behalf.
When I was older, I added self-imposed abstinence to my Lenten ritual. Each year I chose what I was going to give up and made sure everyone around me knew how much of a sacrifice it was. In my past 58 years, some of the things I have given up include chocolate, cake, and even diet soda. One year our family gave up television for the entire Lenten season! Yep, for 40 entire days, we listened to a radio and learned that talking with each other was fun. What a concept, huh?
Recently I began to ask myself why.
Why would I push aside the joy of my salvation for even a moment?
What the heck could I ever give up that could even begin to compare to the price Jesus paid for me?
How could my giving up chocolate or sweets, or dare I say coffee, be anywhere near the value of the life-giving blood of Jesus Christ shed for me?
NOTHING compares to Jesus Christ giving up His life for me; for Him paying the price for my sins! I will never forget this!
NEVER should I take the gift of His life for granted! While I cannot repay Him, I can attempt to live my life in service to Him!
But I absolutely REFUSE to remain stuck at the cross! Jesus didn’t stay there, so why should I?
Jesus DEFEATED death! On THIS I will concentrate!
My Lord and Savior has GIVEN me all good things! I will SHARE His abundant gifts-both small and great-as His Spirit moves me!
Instead of Lent being a season of sorrow, I will turn it into a season of GRATITUDE!
For this Lenten season, I will make a valiant effort to GIVE to others from the bounty He has given me. I will attempt to dig deeper in the Word and SEARCH for the great treasures of His promises. And I will remember with heartfelt gratitude the blood-bought gift of redemption Jesus has given me.
And that on the final day, I will be able to thank Him in person!