Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, it seems to sneak up on me every year. In our non-denominational church it’s an unobserved holiday and Lent isn’t really emphasized. After my family left the Catholic church when I was in junior high I enjoyed the “freedom” of not having to observe Lent. (Lent is a crummy time of year for a non-fish-eater to attend a Parochial school. I’m just sayin’.)
As I’ve grown older, however, I see the value of taking time to prepare for Easter. We spend so much time, money, and energy preparing for Christmas, Christ’s birth. Yet, Easter (unless you’re into the rabbits, eggs, and candy – which we’re not) can surprise you if you’re not looking for it. One cannot help but prepare for Christmas, no matter how haphazardly it is done. But one has to be intentional to prepare the heart for the Resurrection.
Once again we will read books that help us focus on what the cross means. We will have a Lenten centerpiece, akin to an Advent wreath, and we will count down to the cross and the resurrection. We will do some other special things (Lord willing) to prepare our hearts for Him.
One particular idea that on the surface doesn’t seem to have much to do with preparing for Christ but on further examination I can see how it will begin to free my heart and mind up to loving Him and serving Him more was sent to me by a friend yesterday. She asked if I would be willing to do the 40 Days, 40 Bags challenge. The general idea is to list 40 areas of your home / life that need decluttering and to take this season of Lent to cleanse your life of these unnecessary things. The spiritual link is that by joining this effort with prayer and meditation on who God is and what He has done in your life and all that you have been blessed with, you will find yourself more freed up to love and serve Him as your heart is less burdened by all these earthly things. (This site also has a great wealth of information on the concept.) A sister-challenge to this would be to put off all unnecessary purchases (i.e., we still have to buy groceries and toilet paper, but I don’t necessarily need that picture frame or cute shirt) during this season as well. I have not fully committed to this one and am praying about it. The fact that I am wrestling with it this much is probably an indication that I need to do it. 🙂
I am both somewhat intimidated and incredibly excited at the prospect of this. I’m also hoping the girls will get on the bandwagon at least a little bit. I have my list made, though it is not complete and still generally vague. I will post progress here as time goes on.
So, the challenge begins today and today is a busy day with school, grocery shopping, choir, and ballet, so today’s area will need to be something simple. Today’s goal is to simply stop procrastinating about some of the piles of recycling that have been sitting in my house and to just take them to the recycling bins. Simple, yes. But it’s going to free my heart up from that little burden that has been driving me nuts for some time now.
Another thing that I am bringing back for Lent is Thirty for 30, except that it would technically be Thirty for 40, but that doesn’t have quite the same ring. We first attempted Thirty for 30 back in September. And then we got head lice, so between picking heads and doing laundry and trying to keep some sense of normal life around here, I didn’t have an extra thirty seconds, let alone thirty minutes, so it kind of fell by the wayside. Coming off of an incredibly busy time with ministry, this seems like a good time to try again.
Now I’ve listed all of these things that we are going to do for Lent when nothing I do can bring me any closer to salvation and I want to be clear that that is not the point of these exercises. I do not do these things to earn Christ’s love or favor, I do them to prepare my heart and our girls’ hearts for what Easter really is – the highest holy day of the Christian calendar, and as I said at the beginning, it can be so easy to miss the point of Easter if we aren’t intentional. And, if I’m honest, if I miss the point of Easter, I’ve probably missed the point of Christmas as well.
For His Glory ~