On Lent, repentance, and examining our spiritual health

Last Wednesday, many of us gathered (along with our brothers and sisters in the Refugio community) to sing and pray and prepare our hearts to enter the season of Lent. Depending on your background, Lent could mean a lot of different things and I’d imagine some of you are asking “what in the world are we even talking about anyway???”

Well, historically, Lent is the 40-day season (not counting Sundays!) leading up to Easter. Despite it’s reputation as time where people “give up” chocolate or Facebook or something random like that, at it’s best, Lent functions as “the spiritual equivalent of an annual physical exam.” It’s a time for us to take stock of our hearts and lives and ask some pretty pointed questions about our spiritual health.

Though the Bible certainly doesn’t require anyone to observe Lent, many Christians throughout the centuries have found it helpful to set apart this season for a particular focus on repentance, prayer, and, yes, fasting—but more than anything, it’s an opportunity to reflect on Jesus’ call to “take up your cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24-26).

That’s something a lot of us could really use these days. If you’re anything like me, it’s so easy to get caught up with responsibilities at home or at work or at church or at school (or… or… or… the list could go on) that spiritual realities end up getting pushed to the margins. Days come and go. Worries ebb and flow. Stuff gets done (or—just as often—not done). And all of a sudden it’s been waaaaay too since I’ve opened my Bible or spent time enjoying God’s presence.

If that sounds anything like you, Lent might be exactly what you need. Whether or not you plan to “give anything up,” I’d encourage you to take some time over the next month or so to take a look at your life and ask how the Lord might be leading you to grow.

Some things you might do:

1) Take 15-20 minutes to read “On Keeping a Holy Lent” by Craig Higgins (not related to Pastor Mike!). I’ve found his reflections to be super helpful and he has lots of great thoughts on how to approach this season with focus and intentionality.

2) If you don’t currently have a regular habit of Bible study, now is a great time to build one! ESV.org has loads of resources and reading plans available online.

3) Consider using a Lenten prayer guide. Joel Littlepage (a friend and former SCC member) put together a great (and free!) devotional for the church he serves, and there’s a book called Seeking God’s Face that I love and use throughout the year.

These are just a few ideas, but the options are literally endless (well, maybe not literally, but you get what I mean). No matter what you plan to do (or not do), I pray that this would be a season for you to taste the Father’s love, soak yourself in the grace of Jesus, and enjoy the Spirit’s fellowship in deep and refreshing ways.

“Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.”
– Hebrews 13:20-21

Grace and peace,
Sam

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