Why is Lent such a big deal?
Lent has begun. A time when a Christian, like myself, comes screeching to a halt and sits, at least for a few moments, and realizes I have something big to contemplate. Ancient mystics and rule makers created Lent because they believed some things were too important to leave to chance. Humanity would need a practice, a rhythm to remember the significance of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and the thus the prescribed habit of Lent was stamped into the Christian calendar.
Since Jesus took 40 days in a wilderness to prepare for his journey of surrender, the thought is, so should I be willing to spend some time in surrender. My friend Rev. Phil Reinders writes in Seeking God’s Face, Praying with the Bible through the Year, that Lent is “a chance to say no to ourselves in order to experience a greater yes in Jesus.”
So the inner debate begins; which luxury will I deny myself in in exchange for a spiritual perspective. Lent has this bizarre reputation of attracting us through sacrifice. I think Lent is easier than Ramadan fasting, which our Muslim friends follow, they scoff and tease at me when I try to explain my angst over Lenten surrender. Can the irritations of not having a sugar treat really make me more spiritual? How does fasting from a meal, or a technology, or any treat, become a spiritual exchange? Fasting, practicing self-denial, acts as a mental trigger, which amid the many choices in life, gives us a choice to think about Christ.
Come into the journey of Lent, take time and effort to think about the words of Christ; “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father, except through me.” John 14:6