Today is the first day of Lent. As a young girl, I looked forward to this day because it meant my birthday was coming soon and my mom might create a beautiful ceramics piece that had my name on it (as the third daughter, personalized anything was a big deal to me :)) As an older child I remember wearing ashes on my forehead and felt it a bit embarrassing and quite frankly itchy!
But as my walk with Christ matured and my journey began to take many an unexpected curve, I have grown to love the season of Lent for very different reasons. As you probably know the 40 days of Lent (actually 44 as Sundays are not included) represent the 40 days that our Lord fasted and prayed in the wilderness before He made the ultimate sacrifice for our sins.
For Christians, it is an annual time of sacrifice and simplicity. For non Christians it may be nothing more than a time when fast food restaurants seem to be advertising and selling alot of fried Cod sandwiches. But for those that follow Him, Lent is a time of fasting, self denial, Christian growth, penitence and prayer. It is a time for "spiritual spring cleaning." A matter of fact the word itself comes from a Germanic word for "springtime."
For me, it is a time of taking a spiritual inventory and a cleaning out of those things that hinder my walk, my personal relationship with Christ and my service to Him. It is a time of frequent and intentional prayer, a time of looking for ways to serve the Body and a time of delving into His word and rereading the struggles that Jesus endured during His wilderness time.
As a child, the ashes sort of scared me - today they give me great joy. For without His sacrifice on the Cross, I would be but mere ashes - His gift on Good Friday and the miracle of the Resurrection has given all of us great Hope and a life worth living! St. Athenasus describes Lent beautifully as "becoming by grace what God is by nature." This morning while driving to the AHG office, a songwriter said it in a different way, "it is not what we did, but what He has done" that gives us Hope.
So as we embark on the season of Lent with the knowledge of the Risen Christ to come, may it be a blessed season for you. May you grow in love and understanding of our Lord and become more like Him through your sacrifices. And may you share the Good News with another.