Growing up in the Southern Baptist church, I didn't really know much about Lent. I knew that some of my Catholic friends would go to mass on Ash Wednesday. But other than that, I really didn't know about the purpose of Lent or why someone might observe it. It wasn't until I went away to college that I realized that there was beauty in reflection and solitude before Easter. So during my freshman year, I decided to observe Lent by fasting from red meat. (lol) It was definitely a challenge, but something I am so glad I did. Each year, the Lord would lay something on my heart that I needed to give up in order to be closer to Him. And each year, the season of Lent would be a slow one of reflection and repentance as He drew me to Him.
As I've gotten older, I've realized the beauty of observing the liturgical calendar. There is so much joy when we step into Advent and anticipate the birth of Christ, and there is even more joy when we come to the end of Lent and celebrate the resurrection of our Savior King who went to the cross for us. When we take a step back and intentionally think through the meaning of these seasons, we appreciate and long for Christ all the more.
Lent is a period of forty days leading up to Easter. It is a time when we fast or abstain from something in order to draw nearer to our Heavenly Father. Traditional fasting calls for abstinence from food, but this isn't completely necessary. Obviously there is not a lot of wisdom in participating in a complete fast for 40 days unless God Himself tells you to. So think about other areas in your life where you know that there is an unnecessary excess. Maybe you spend too much time on social media and are constantly refreshing your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram for the latest news or stats. Maybe your binge watching is getting out of control. Maybe you're spending too much money on frivolous things and should be saving more. You know where you need help and boundaries, and Lent can be a perfect time to get real about some changes that need to be made in your life.
What is the significance of the 40 days, you might ask? In the Bible, the number 40 is quite significant and appears in key texts and stories that encourage us to know the heart of the Father and realign our affections to Him. Where does the number 40 show up? Let's take a look:
God caused it to rain 40 days and 40 nights while Noah, his family, and the animals were in the ark.
The Hebrew people wandered in the desert for 40 years after escaping from the Egyptians.
Moses spent three different periods of 40 days and 40 nights on Mount Sinai.
Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights before He was tempted by Satan.
Jesus was on earth for 40 days after His resurrection before He ascended to heaven.
There is something significant about the number 40, so we would be wise to allow it to guide us in our spiritual lives! My challenge to you this year is two-fold:
1) Think and pray about what the Lord wants you to fast from during this time. If you ask Him, He will show you!
2) Make a commitment right now to be in the Word of God every single day for these 40 days. Lent begins on March 1 this year. I'll be reading through Isaiah with the ladies of She Reads Truth. My hubs will be joining the gents of He Reads Truth, and we will get to talk about it together! They have beautifully written devotionals and a reading plan all FOR FREE on their site, plus you can download the app and follow along there. I'll also be using my 40-day Give Me Jesus journal to guide my time in the Word. This resource will help me slow down and glean all the goodness I can from His word.
So are you with me? If so, let me know in the comments below. I'll be back each Friday of Lent with a short post about what the Lord is showing me through the Lenten study on Isaiah, and I will also have some amazing giveaways! There will be a lucky winner each week that will be chosen from the comments. All you have to do is tell us what you're learning in your Lenten journey. :)
Let's hold each other accountable by making the commitment now. This Lent, we want more of Jesus, and we're going to run after Him together. I'm so excited to be on this journey with you, friends!