Lent Enhancers

lent

By definition, Lent is a solemn religious observance in the liturgical calendar of many Christian denominations that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends Easter Sunday. In common vernacular, the purpose of Lent is to deny yourself of something in order to, in the smallest measure, be able to physically experience Jesus’ denial of his body and soul as he prepared to go to The Cross for you and me. While it is observed in many faiths, the denomination I grew up in did not observe Lent. Our kids have been raised in non-denominational churches, but moving around the country exposed us to different traditions at the places of worship we attended, and our church in California was the first to expose us to the sacrificial abstaining of something during the 40-day period.

As a new spiritual experience, it was somewhat of a novelty for us. Mike and I enjoyed watching the kids agonize over what to give up that would be sacrificial, but with the least amount of discomfort possible. We observed how they handled any missteps along the way ~ some added a voluntary extra day, some were quick to allow themselves extra grace, and a couple unfortunately quit well before Easter Sunday. Mike is incredibly disciplined and has 3 cookies after dinner every day ~ never one to get carried away and have 5 or 6, always 3. But he really enjoys those cookies. Every Lent, he gives up his cookies. Each year I prayed to see what God would suggest I give up, and most years I was impressed to give up coffee. Which is why I pray each year to see what He wants me to do, hoping He doesn’t suggest coffee. If you know anything about me, it has been well documented that I realllllly enjoy my coffee.

We’re a little over a month into the Lenten season, with about 28 days to go. It’s at this point that my thoughts become extremely carnal and disappointingly coffee-centric ~ How many more days? Is there a tea that comes close to the taste of my toffee nut lattes? How long before these caffeine withdrawals stop wearing me out? I MISS MY COFFEE!!!!!

Somehow, I don’t think this is the most spiritual posture I can take during this holy season, so I’d like to share some enhancements I’ve adopted that help bring a more sacred element to Lent for me. In essence, the goal is to take your eyes off of you, and onto Jesus:

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– Read through the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the Bible. They are all self-authored by men who spent three years traveling with Jesus and documenting his ministry here on earth. Make a point to note the obstacles He overcame, the people bent on destroying Him by discrediting His every move, and ultimately taking His life. What’s most amazing is He knew exactly what they were doing, yet He chose to respond in love and give up His life even for them and their ugly hearts.

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– Watch the movie, The Passion of the Christ. Or Ben Hur. Or The Greatest Story Ever Told. I personally like The Passion of the Christ because of it’s unsettling portrayal of the beating and suffering Jesus endured before and at The Cross. I can barely watch, but so humbly appreciate how He loved me enough to endure all of that. And, truth be told, the beatings Jesus suffered in actuality were far worse than what could be portrayed in a movie.

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– Set aside a little time each day to reflect and be thankful. Maybe turn the radio off in the car for a bit and pray. Praying isn’t a fancy compilation of uber-spiritual jargon. It’s as simple as talking to God as if He was sitting next to you and not judging you at all. Picture your favorite person in all the world listening to you with an open heart and a smile on their face. That’s how the God of the universe listens to you. So thank Him. Anything and everything you can think of to thank Him for, thank Him. It does your heart a world of good, and more importantly, thankfulness shifts the focus off of you (and your lack of coffee or whatever you gave up for Lent!).

These three simple suggestions aren’t meant to be a comprehensive list, but merely recommendations to enrich your 40-day experience. If you’re anything like me, the less time you focus on yourself, the better. By Easter Sunday, it’s my prayer that you have a deeper, greater appreciation for how special you are to God, so you can pass a bit of His love on to others.

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Comments

  1. Philip M Dorr says:

    Kim:

    Nicely done and much appreciated. Know that I truly look forward to your inspirational and God honoring blogs. This one will make you pause and think about what one’s purpose in life is all about. Thanks again Kim and Happy Easter to you and the family.

    Phil

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