Thinking back over the years I am amazed to see how God has used the season of Lent in my life, even though my observance of it has been mostly as a bystander:
- I observed smudges on people’s foreheads, and in ignorance pointed them out! Oops. (They were merely Ash Wednesday ashes.)
- I observed friends declaring what they were giving up for Lent. And felt a sense of secret chagrin that for that many weeks, I couldn’t share home-baked treats or lattes with them, not wanting to offend or tempt them.
- I observed my own sense of self-righteousness, sometimes proclaiming almost proudly that I didn’t observe Lent. Didn’t need to.
- I observed a personal lack of understanding of the biblical practice of fasting. I felt God challenge me to privately “give up” something as a reminder to pray for my friends during this season.
- I observed God at work in my heart, asking me to be open to seeing things afresh, stripped of preconceived notions about how things should look.
- I observed others observing Lent – not merely as a meaningless ritual or requirement for righteousness but as a season of letting go in order to grasp more tightly to things of God.
- I observed a growing curiosity about this tradition that is not specifically mentioned in the Bible and yet contains so many biblical elements.
Lent for me has been a strange but beautiful journey over the past fourteen years, one I didn’t even realize I was on. But for these reasons and more, I’m excited to embrace it more fully this year, and all that God has to teach me through it.