It’s been a tough season—vaccines, quarantines, politics, work, kids at home, remote learning, winter sports that may or may not happen. Anyone else feel like you’re kind of just skipping from one thing to the next? Grounded is not the word a lot of us are using these days.
Yet here we are at an anchor in our Christian calendar—the beginning of the Easter season. Lent starts today. Some of us look at lent with a little confusion. Maybe we never understood it growing up. It was just a rote exercise. Perhaps your family didn’t practice it. It was something that “other Christians” do.
So how might you build lent into your family culture? If it fits, where?
Perhaps more than any year in our lifetime, the pause, reflection, and intentionality of Lent will be hard-fought. We are tired of celebrating alone, in small groups, or with a different experience among our church family especially this Easter which marks a year of the pandemic. And, with our homes doubling as schoolhouses, short-order kitchens, work-from-home offices, and places of recreation, quiet won’t naturally happen.
Our goal at Minno is to help you abide in the joy and peace of living alongside Christ in every season; in all circumstances. Providing resources for that is a top priority, so we have several resources focused on Lent: What is Lent? (including the answer that it’s actually not in the Bible and has looked different over the centuries), weekly Lent devotionals, and liturgies for this second pandemic-era Easter.
But abiding begins before the decision on what to do with your family. It begins with some questions of the heart. Taking this more intentional stance—which will be hard-fought in today’s life fatigue—does not mean simply answering the “what will I give up” question, nor is it a call to just confess a behavioral sin pattern and commit to ending it. Both are good issues to engage in, but that’s not where we start.
Instead, let’s start with a few chapters of scripture: Hebrews 12, John 16, and Romans 8.
Hebrews 12:2 talks about the joy Jesus looked toward even as He endured suffering of the highest degree—death. Yes, He asked God if this plight is what had to be, but He very quickly followed that question on multiple occasions with a surrender to what God had for Him.
And that is the key to giving up the chocolate, the Netflix, the social media, or the meat: in Lent, we surrender not just the thing—the desire—but the will. This is not just a “give it up and pray more” command.
So, what does that look like? Well, thankfully, like Jesus had the companionship of the Father, we have the companionship of the Holy Spirit. John 16 and Romans 8 acquaint us a little more with the Holy Spirit’s role as our advocate, continuing Christ’s work on earth. He is a source of wisdom when we ask. And He is a gentle convictor of aligning what we think, feel, want, and do toward God’s will, acknowledging our own posture and surrendering it to be more in line with His truth. So our giving up of something becomes so much more than a behavior change of our own, often faulty, will. Instead, it is an opportunity to give our will over to find God’s desires for us in His infinite power.
A life-giving Lent season is what we need. Not 40 days of grin-and-bear-it sacrifice. But, instead, a groundedness in God that sets a new rhythm for after this season. How do we start?
Ask the Holy Spirit where He and the Father need to work in your life. This might be a barrier that needs to be removed, a chain broken, a new understanding of Him gained.
Engage together. If you’re married, enter this season with a game plan together. If you are single, ask a trusted friend to walk with you. Have older kids? This might be the perfect time for shared reflection so that their experience of Lent is a powerful one from a young age.
Get still/abide. If you’ve never set time to pray, do it now. Just 15 minutes in the morning or somewhere in your day. Grab a Bible, read something and ask the Lord to tell you what He wants you to hear, and just talk to Him without distraction.
Personally, I am entering Lent with a lot on my plate. Minno is growing, which comes with incredible excitement and the need for deep discernment on next steps. We are thrilled to share some of those with you, soon. My family has been learning spiritually in ways we never have before, but we’re also in the thick of parenting teenage girls, which some of you can relate to. And, to get really practical, we’ve had four days of ice, snow, and bitter cold in Nashville, which means no one has left the house in a long time. That’s a scenario we can ALL relate to.
Slow down. Today. Find the time, perhaps whatever time is leftover from the giving up of media or some other vice. Reflect on how you can trust God for His provision, His presence, His conviction, or His prompting, with a grounded hope that He will fill that void with something even greater. And keep track of it in a journal or even on post-it notes. These seasons of focus are meant to change us.
How will you experience God as good in these 40 days?