Note about author
For three years I have attended Eagan Hills Alliance Church with my wife Jenny and our four children: Grace, Joshua, Charlie, and Noah. I grew up Roman Catholic and I continue to follow many of the spiritual disciplines I learned in my youth. Today, in this guest blog, I want to explain what Lent means to me in hopes that you will gain a deeper understanding of what Lent can mean for you.
Lent: What is it?
Lent is the forty days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday (excluding Sundays). This forty-day period of time at the end of Jesus’ ministry was chosen to mirror the forty days Jesus spent fasting at the beginning of his ministry (Matthew 4). Christians have historically celebrated this forty day period with a heightened focus on prayer, fasting, alms-giving, and service to others. Simply put, the purpose of Lent is for Christians to refocus their lives on Christ.
Lent: Why? What purpose does it have in my life?
Growing up Catholic, I thought Lent was all about rules: don’t eat meat on Ash Wednesday and Fridays, give something up that I like, pray more, and walk through the Stations of the Cross weekly. The list of rules seemed to go on and on. But as I grew older and became serious in my faith, my understanding changed to loving Lent. The reason? I often felt like I was coming up short in my daily walk with the Lord. I knew my relationship with Christ could be better.
I needed something to spur me on toward Christ- a wakeup call. Lent is my walk up call to enter an intense time of spiritual devotion, and to allow a deeper connection to Christ to develop in my life.
I realize some of you may be saying, “Wait a minute! It sounds like you are trying to earn your way through works!” Nope. If Lent becomes about works for you, then you are missing the entire point and you are following rules for the sake of rules! I repeat, Lent is not about works and rules, it is about Christ.
Prior to entrusting His spirit to the Father, Jesus said on the cross, “It is finished!” No one can add to the finished work of Christ. His blood paid the redemption for Christians. This isn’t about anyone earning their way to heaven. Lent is about gazing on the Savior and desiring more of Him in our lives.
The various disciplines of Lent— prayer, Scripture, devotionals, fasting, alms-giving, and service, are tangible means during these forty days to help me truly focus on Christ. Lent also serves as a springboard to help me walk closer to Christ during the rest of the year.
Each of us sin every day and deserve an eternity apart from the Savior. The good news is that we have been redeemed. Through His work on the cross, Jesus broke the chains of death. A traditional phrase said to those who have their foreheads marked with ashes on Ash Wednesday is, “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” Lent is a perfect time to confess sins, and seek to be transformed more into being like Jesus.
It is my prayer that all of you will truly experience Christ during this holy season.
Always walk in His light!