(Each Lent entry will give us a few days to ponder and sit with the Lord surrounding the scripture passages in that entry. The paragraphs following the passages are intended to give some guidance as we draw into the presence of God and dialogue with Him.)
Meditation for the Soul ~
I will instruct you and teach you
in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,
who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
and also with him
who is of a contrite and lowly spirit.
Reflection for the Mind ~
Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, and we begin a journey that will carry us up through the day preceding Easter Sunday. I am asking the Lord if He would give each of us an experience of Himself that will make this Lent especially meaningful; one that will bring true soul change, marked by an increased eagerness to glorify the Risen Savior of the World. In preparation, we prayerfully consider whether there isn’t a sacrifice that would be appropriate to make during these weeks of Lent.
Fasting and the forgoing of certain luxuries is a traditional part of Lent sometimes referred to as the Lenten Sacrifice. It’s generally seen as a point of identification with the forty-days Jesus spent in the desert. Our forefathers as early as 325A.D. began to form and practice a version of what we now embrace as tradition.
One of the cautions I feel quite strongly as I consider what I might forgo is that I not mistake a few temporary sacrifices as having spiritual benefit in and of themselves. It is the Holy Spirit within me who does the work of enlightenment and growth as I cooperate with Him. All that to say, more than embracing the tradition of Lent, I am interested in being intentional about moving toward the remembrance of the Crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus so that God is honored through my life as He ought to be. I have an idea that’s what our forefathers had in mind in the first place.
Secondly, in case there would be any inkling within us tempting us to elevate ourselves for the “grand sacrifice” we are about to make, let’s remember, “All that is in the heavens and in the earth is Yours,” (1 Chronicles 29:11). In light of this very important truth, it’s going to be difficult (in a good way) to feel self-righteous or sorry for ourselves for whatever the Lord might ask us to lay aside. We might have to remind each other of that along the way!
So, what will you and I fast? What will we lay aside so that we create space to allow the Spirit of God to prepare us to rightly honor the Lord at Easter? I believe the Spirit will happily speak to us about what He would have us forgo, reminding us that the objective is to find our way into the presence of God, cooperative and submitted. He will do the rest.
Response for the Heart ~
Lord, I come to You and ask, what would You have me lay aside in these weeks preceding Easter? What in my life might be keeping me from making space for You? Where have I intentionally or otherwise, cluttered my daily schedule so that I find little room for drawing away with You? Speak to me. Show me what You would have me do and I will do it. And thank You for the will and the strength to cooperate with You. Glorify Yourself through my life as never before! ~ Amen