Growing up, the term Lent was a term thrown around at church but never explained. From what I gleaned, Lent involved giving something up for 40 days, which often turned into a diet; “I am giving up sugar for Lent, hopefully I will lose a few pounds.”
From my limited knowledge, Lent made no sense to me. What did dieting for 40 days have to do with Easter? Even though I knew little about fasting, I was pretty sure God did not appreciate people using it as a diet. With all the confusion, I stayed clear of Lent.
So every year Easter arrived, and I attended a celebration church service. I dressed up a little nicer than normal, and sang “Oh Happy Day,” but I rarely felt in a celebratory mood. Apart from the girls in flowery dresses, Easter resembled all other Sundays for me because I never prepared my heart to experience the joy of Easter.
Just as Advent prepares our hearts for Christmas, Lent prepares our hearts for Easter. In her book Feast!, Haley Stewart describes Lent this way: “We fast, pray, and give, in order to clear our spiritual vision and to see ourselves as we truly are: in desperate need of God’s grace.”
Once I understood this, my opinion and participation in Lent changed. By setting aside 40 days to draw close to God and to fully understand our desperate need of the cross, Lent becomes a time of renewed joy in the Lord.
Since today is the first day of Lent, I want to invite you into this season of preparation for Easter by offering a brief explanation of the three practices of Lent.
I had to privilege of writing this post for Arabah Joy. Head over to her site to finish reading The Christian Girl’s Guide to Lent.