I think there are two especially great values of the Lenten season that help me in my life, and perhaps will help in yours as well. Lent is a true gift to followers of Jesus; six weeks to invest in practices and meditations that make the rest of our life throughout the year more significant and deep.
The first idea that may be helpful to you is to take a long, loving look at what Christ has done for us. Observing Lent is not a commandment, and it certainly is optional for Christians. But I find it helpful because otherwise Holy Week arrives with little personal preparation, and there is so much activity it is easy to hustle through these holy days with little true thought about what really happened. Jesus left heaven and the continual presence of His Father to come to this broken planet for us. He was perfect; blameless, yet ultimately betrayed, rejected, and ignored by the people He came to save. But He rose in power and left His Holy Spirit to empower all who would believe and accept Him as Lord.
We hear it so often in pieces, but getting the full story in a short period of time is incredibly impacting. I like to read the four gospels from start to finish during Lent. There are 88 chapters in the four gospels. If on 40 weekdays of Lent you read two chapters a day, and one on each Friday and Saturday, you would be through all the gospels by Easter. You will have read the life of Christ and His death and resurrection four times. Your gratitude and devotion will grow.
Another way to take a long and loving look at what Christ has done is to watch, perhaps with family, at least one of the wonderful videos about the sacrifice of Christ. Perhaps you can catch one on television, as many are shown during this season, or you could rent one. “The Passion of the Christ,” “Jesus of Nazareth,” “Risen,” and “The Jesus Story” are just some that are available, and though none are perfect, all are thought-provoking.
A second idea that may help you is to take a long, loving look at your life to see if your values and priorities are in line with Christ’s sacrifice and God’s will for us. Lent is intended to be a time to “return to God with our whole heart.” Here are just a couple of thoughts that may help you come up with your own ways to take a look at your life:
Make a commitment to less noise and more reflection. Perhaps you have a 15 minute or so commute to work. You could use that time to talk and listen to God instead of music or news. Or maybe while you are getting ready in the mornings, you could keep the TV off and use the silence to reflect on God.
Set aside a half day during Lent to consciously take a look at your last year with God. Make note of the progress you have made and where you yet need to grow. Celebrate with God, and set some goals, too.
Each day of the 40 days, add one item to a list of the changes in your life because of Jesus.On Good Friday, during your devotional time with Jesus, pray and consider what needs to be next in your obedience.
Lent is also a great time to pray specifically and daily for the people in your circle who do not yet have a relationship with Christ - maybe your barber, your child’s coach, that elderly neighbor. Plan to invite them to be your guest at the Easter events. This Lent could be the turning point in their forever.
Let’s make these six weeks matter!