The season of Lent is upon us. This was something I grew up practicing. When Ash Wednesday rolled around, I would usually choose something to give up that I really loved until Easter Sunday. These things usually included chocolate, sweets, or the bad habit of biting my nails; I was looking to gain some self control or lose weight if I’m truly being honest here.
It was like a second chance for me to actually keep my New Year’s Resolution. By February or March, I had already dropped the ball when it came to what I had resolved for the New Year so my resolution was my “mulligan.” After all, giving something up for Jesus seemed to be more righteous than giving something up because it was the New Year.
This year, Ash Wednesday snuck up on me. I didn’t feel like I was drawn to giving up any one thing – but it’s a practice that I have enjoyed doing throughout my childhood as well as adulthood. My current church also observes the season of Lent. They wrote a blog challenging us to mirror the time Jesus spent in the wilderness seeking out God’s heart for the world. We could use this time leading up to Easter to ask God to prepare us for something new, to show us His heart for those who don’t fully know Him, and spend quality time in prayer or His Word. Along with that challenge, we were welcomed to give up something as well in order to make time to spend intentionally with God.
We have only 24 hours in a day. Twenty-four hours to go to work, sleep, eat, spend time with our significant other, catch up on the phone with long distance friends, family time, cook, clean, go to the bathroom, plan the next birthday party, journal, create something new, watch tv, listen to the radio, run errands, check social media, find the recipe for dinner, clean up, and veg out. Until we do it all over again.
There are plenty of things I left out in the list of things to-do. Including spending time with God. It depends on the day where He falls in my list of priorities. There are days I wake up looking forward to cracking open my bible and devotional and sitting quietly before the loudness of the day begs for my attention. There are days when I ask Him who He wants me to show His love to today, or what does He want to reveal to me about His character. While other days I roll out of bed hardly feeling awake enough to get dressed. My mind and heart are absent from God’s.
That’s why I want to observe this season of Lent. Not because giving things up for God makes me any more righteous. Not so that I can boast about what I have done for Him. It’s certainly not to lose weight this year. It’s because my heart is prone to wander. It’s because I’m the child who doesn’t fully appreciate the gift the Father has given me all too often.
This year, for Lent – I’m giving up my time, or rather my to-do list. This may seem vague, but I know how my day goes. From the moment I wake up, I have a list of tasks that I’d like to get done by the time I’m ready to relax in the evening. But so many of these things don’t need to be done. I like to think “I have it all together” by having meals prepared and the laundry done before the pile is overflowing. And so goes my day. Masking my true heart by keeping things together. Our heavenly Father knows my heart. It’s time I give Him the space to shape it into something that looks a bit more like His.
“This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:22-24 NIV
I’m asking for God’s heart to move mine; that I would look to His grace and His gift to be forever changed.