Looking Forward to Lent
This year I am really looking forward to Lent season. Are you?
Seasonally, Lent is the forty days leading up to Easter Sunday, minus the Sundays themselves. The word “Lent” literally means “Spring Season.”
Historically, Lent has been observed largely by Anglican, Lutheran, Eastern Orthodox and Catholic churches. Some Evangelical churches also observe Lent.
Practically, Lent is often a time when followers of Jesus fast from food, or something important to them, to use that time and mindshare to remember Jesus and what He did for them in his death and resurrection.
Many Christians also use Lent season to add a particular spiritual discipline to their lives, like fixed hours of prayer or readings in the Gospels, to help point them to Jesus and prepare them for Easter.
Theologically, Lent helps Christians to think about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus as they approach Holy Week. At the end of the day, or in this case, these forty days, Lent is not just seasonal, historical or practical, but intensely theological.
Here are three things I am looking forward to during Lent this year:
1. I’m Looking Forward to Laying Something Down
Jesus made it clear, on many occasions, that he came to lay his life down for the sake of those who would put their faith, hope and trust in him. In John 10:11, Jesus says:
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
Whatever small thing I lay down during Lent, it reminds me of the great thing Jesus laid down for me. Every time I lay that thing down over these forty days, over and over again, it reminds me of what Jesus laid down for me, once and for all.
Jesus looked forward to laying down his life for me, and I look forward to laying something down to remember what he first laid down for me.
2. I’m Looking Forward to Cleaning Something Up
The word “Lent” comes from an Old English word that simply means “Spring Season.”
The first thing that comes to mind when I think about the Spring season is Spring cleaning. I love it! I actually might love it too much. I love purging, getting rid of things we don’t use, and making room for the things we do.
This is interesting because historically, followers of Jesus have used the Lent season as a time for spiritual cleaning – purging their lives from the things that aren’t useful or helpful, and making room for things that are.
This Lent season, I’m looking forward to the joy that will come as I ask Jesus to reveal the sin that is cluttering my soul, repent of it before him and others, rid my spiritual house of this useless junk, and replace it with spiritual habits that will help me keep my spiritual house clean and in order.
3. I’m Looking Forward to Taking Something Up Again
Jesus also made it clear, on many occasions, that he would not only lay his life down, but that he would take it back up again. In John 10:17-18, Jesus says:
“For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.”
What Jesus laid down, he would take back up. And the joy of laying his life down (Heb.12:2), would only be surpassed by the joy of taking it back up again.
Whatever small thing I lay down during Lent, it is still significant to me in some way – hence the sacrifice in laying it down. On Easter Sunday, when I exercise my will to take back up what I have laid down, it will remind me of the way Jesus exercised his will to take back up what he also laid down.
In that moment, the joy that comes from taking back up what was laid down, will remind me of the joy Jesus had in taking back up what he laid down, and will point me to the ultimate joy that I can only find and want in him.
Jesus looked forward to taking back up what he laid down, and I look forward to taking something back up to remember what he first took back up for me.
What will you lay down this Lent season? What will you clean up? What will you look forward to taking back up?