The season of Lent is upon us. You might ask, “What is Lent?”
Lent is a preparation time for 40 days that lead up to Good Friday and Easter, or, as I prefer, Resurrection Sunday. Good Friday is the day we remember that Jesus suffered and died on the cross for our sins. Easter Sunday is more than just Easter bunnies and candy, though I do like the candy. Easter Sunday is Resurrection Sunday, the day most Christian churches around the world celebrate Jesus rising from the dead. After he died on the cross, he was buried, but then he rose again on the third day, which is Sunday.
So, how do you prepare during Lent? Some people “give up” something for Lent. Some might give up TV, alcohol, coffee or sugar or maybe video games. The idea of “giving up” something is to find something that would really be a sacrifice for us.
For a long time, I never fully understood “giving up” something during Lent, then going back to it when Lent ends. I guess the idea of “Fat Tuesday” (Lent starts on Ash Wednesday), seems hypocritical to indulge on Tuesday, then fast something or “give up” something starting on Wednesday.
Then, the meaning of “giving up something” came home to me several years ago when a college girl from a church I once pastored posted on Facebook that she began her Lent with the commitment to sacrifice sugar for the 40-day Lenten season. A couple weeks after that, she posted something that suddenly turned on the light for me. She said, in essence, “I am really craving sugar right now. But I pray that my craving for God would become as strong as my craving for sugar.”
That was it.
When we enjoy something a lot and we choose to give it up (sacrifice it) for 40 days, it creates a craving or a deep desire for what we are missing. During Lent, this sacrifice reminds us to crave God, to have a deep desire for God more than we have for that which we have given up. It reminds us how much we want to know him and how much we need him in our lives.
As Lent leads up to Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, we are reminded how much God craves for and desires us. God sent his one and only son to earth for the purpose of dying on the cross for our sins (which keep us separated from God) and forgiving our sins. As our sins deserve death, Jesus died for our sins. The resurrection of Jesus on the third day validated what Jesus came to do. And because he conquered death forever, we can be assured that our gift of eternal life is also real.
Because of what Jesus did for us, we can have a relationship with God. Now it is possible to be one with God and be with him forever. And he promises to be with us. He made it possible to have fellowship with God forever.
In my position, I travel from time to time. Sometimes it is for a week or two. My wife travels with me sometimes, but not always. When she doesn’t, I miss her and long to come home to be with her again. I realize God feels the same way about us. He longs to be with us. But the invitation is for us to be willing for him to do so. He made the way and comes to us, but he will never force his way into our lives. We have to have willing hearts and take that step of faith to believe and follow him.
These are some things to ponder during this season of Lent.
• Dan Wiese is pastor of the Church of the Nazarene. “Living Growing” is a weekly column written by different authors and submitted by local clergy and spiritual leaders.