Silence and Stillness before God (2 minutes)
Breathe, just breathe… relax your shoulders, and let yourself take a few slow deep breaths. Exhale the worries and the stress of the day and breathe in Gods peace and joy as you invite the Holy Spirit to let Him wash over you with the Father’s Love. Thank Him for His faithfulness and goodness in your life and rest in whatever the Holy Spirit is revealing to you at this moment.
Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus—the man he had raised from the dead. A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him. Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance. But Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said, “That perfume was worth a year’s wages. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.” Not that he cared for the poor—he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples’ money, he often stole some for himself. Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” When all the people heard of Jesus’ arrival, they flocked to see him and also to see Lazarus, the man Jesus had raised from the dead. 10 Then the leading priests decided to kill Lazarus, too, for it was because of him that many of the people had deserted them and believed in Jesus.
So often we go into Lent, the 40 days leading up to Easter, with the greatest intentions of giving up or fasting things to consciously draw near to Christ. We start out with pure hearts but then life happens and distractions pull us away from the true meaning of lent, or we make our sacrifice into a project to check off a list of items to accomplish, “draw near to Jesus, check!” and we pat ourselves on the back for a job well done.
Throughout the generations the most common items to give up include a broad range of entertainment (TV or social pages), things that generally bring us pleasure (sleeping in) and of course food (caffeine, chocolate, sugar, carbs, etc.). These are not bad things. On the contrary a break from all these things would indeed bring health and wellness to our mind, body and spirit. But it lacks the true reason of figuring out the WHY behind the reason of Lent. Is it purely for selfish reasons you are giving up these items, hoping for better sleep or to possibly shed a few unwanted pounds? Is it to truly replace those comforts with the Comforter himself? To actually put yourself in Jesus shoes, so to speak, and experience the days leading up to the crucifixion as if you were actually there?
Lent is a season of preparation. A season to prepare our hearts and to fully immerse ourselves in the process of Gods greatest work on earth, the death and resurrection of Jesus, which FOREVER CHANGED EVERYTHING! To realize the hope that is before us because of Gods great love for us. Can we really understand this fully? Are we awed to the point of not being able to express ourselves at the miracle of it all? Are our hearts changed in the process and presence of God as Holy Spirit walks us through the days to follow? “God seems more interested in what we are becoming than in what we are giving up. As David sang
You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. (Psalm 51:16-17)
“Faith, in general, is less about the sacrifice of stuff and more about the surrender of our souls. Lent, in kind, is less about well-mannered denials and more about thinning our lives in order to thicken our communion with God. Decrease is holy ONLY when its destination is love.”
Questions to Consider
What is your WHY behind your sacrifice for Lent? In what ways are you thinning your life in order to thicken your communion with God? Why are you setting aside these 40 days of Lent to honor Jesus’ death and resurrection this year?
Lord, I thank you that you are the God who sees me, who knows me and draws me to you. I thank you that you are more concerned about my heart than of my sacrifice. Lord I pray that you would help me to stay in a place of communion with you, to make this process more about Your Presence than about my own productivity. Teach me, guide me and help me learn to keep my eyes fixed on You as you walk with me through the journey of illuminating Your WHY behind the cross. Let me fast Lent as a Project and lean into Your Presence. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)
The 40 days of decrease blogs have been inspired by the book “40 Days of Decrease” by Alicia Britt Chole.