Lent reminds us of the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness, which he was led into. Now wait a second, does this suggest that there are times when God leads us into the wilderness, not just out of it? Yep. And guess what else? The wilderness can be a very messy place.
I will make them and the places surrounding my hill a blessing. I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing. (Ezekiel 34:26)
I don’t use the word blessings very often. It’s not that I don’t believe in blessings or that I haven’t been blessed in many ways, it’s just a word I don’t use. If I’m honest, the main reason I don’t use the word blessing(s) very often is because it feels spiritually loaded.
Fasting has never been a spiritual discipline I’ve been very good at practicing. The times I have fasted haven’t been without meaning but haven’t moved me as much spiritually as I would have expected. Honestly, one of the biggest takeaways I’ve had after each time of fasting has been the amount of time I think about food. I don’t think I’m obsessed with food, (or perhaps I am and don’t realize it) but I did realize I think about what I’m going to eat, want to eat, should eat, shouldn’t eat, what kind of snack I want while I sit at my desk, etc. a lot.
The ashes are a tangible reminder of our mortality. A physical reminder of how short our time is in this life. We are but a mist that appears for a short time and disappears (James 4:14). The ashes remind us to mourn for our sins and of our need for confession and repentance. I believe there is life in the ashes.
Lent. The Latin version (Quadragesima) means forty, as in the number of days Jesus spent in the wilderness fasting before beginning his public ministry. The English version (Lent) initially meant “spring” and also conveys the idea of long, as in the days getting longer in the Spring. Whether you find yourself “giving something up” or “taking something on” for Lent, it is a season which holds the potential for significant spiritual renewal and growth.