13 days until Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.
The Lenten season is the 40 days that precedes Easter every year. Historically it has been a time of denying yourself some of the luxuries or pleasures of this life so that you can seek the Lord and get closer to Him. It is often marked by spending extra time with the Lord and ceasing activities that can take you off your “spiritual game.”
I awoke early this morning to get to the gym and exercise my physical body. There is a very conscious choice to deny myself of extra sleep for the sake of strengthening my body. When we work out, we force our body to do things that take exertion and strain. As we are consistent in exercise, our bodies get used to the discipline and then we start to crave the activity and feel a little off when we miss out on doing it.
Our spiritual lives are similar to our physical bodies. To grow stronger in our faith, we need to be disciplined to spend time in the Bible, and in worship and prayer. As we exercise our spiritual muscles, we will be more ready to handle crises and times when our faith is shaken. Lent is like the beginning of the year when we make New Year’s resolutions to lose weight or get in shape. It gives us the chance to have a spiritual fresh start and a period of time when others are focusing on “getting in shape” spiritually too. It is always easier to work out when there are other people with you. You feel less sorry for yourself and gain some aspect of momentum from “running” with others.
Would you consider giving up something for Lent? Many of my friends have chosen social media, sweets, coffee, alcohol or sleeping in (so that you can spend extra time with God each day). Others have fasted certain foods like sugar, meat, diary or some combinations of foods. This is not intended to be the punishment of penance where you are constantly complaining because a Lenten fast is a burden. It is supposed to be a corporate time of seeking God, growing closer to Him, and creating new healthy habits that will push you forward in your spiritual life.
I would be lying if I said that every time my alarm goes off early for me to go to the gym I spring out of bed. Many mornings it is a choice I am making to walk in discipline. Once I arrive and I start on the rowing machine to warm up and begin thanking God for His goodness, my attitude generally improves. By the end of each workout I am proud of what I accomplished and drive home with a sense of pride and strength.
Lent is a time to strengthen ourself in the Lord. Would you join us this season?
Ash Wednesday is the start of the 40 days, and I highly encourage you to join us for our Ash Wednesday service on Valentine’s Day (2/14) from 6pm-7pm in the Dome. We have found that kicking this season off together helps you to realize that “others are running with you” and you are not alone. Be praying now, and decide ahead of time what commitment you will make in fasting.