Drawing Nearer: Lent 2019
Lent was always something I knew to be a Catholic religious holiday, and something exclusive to that sect. It was never something I participated in, but I always had Catholic classmates that did. "What are you giving up for lent?" would characterize spring time conversations, and I would observe the exchange between my peers, very intrigued by this period of denying something that meant a lot to you. Some of them would give up certain types of food or sweets. I even saw people give up haircuts. Once I became an adult, I heard people mention things like alcohol, coffee, social media, and ironically sex. But whatever was being given up, was supposed to be a sacrifice, and something that meant a lot to your flesh. This was the extent of my knowledge about it, until I decided to do my own research on the liturgical season this year.
Lent, short for the "lenten period" is a 6-week period of prayer, fasting and almsgiving primarily observed by Catholics but other Christians as well, for 40 days leading up to Easter. The entire period is 46 days, but Sundays are excluded. The reason that this period is observed through sacrifice is to stand in solidarity with the hardship Jesus experienced while he fasted for 40 days and 40 nights in the desert, enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his ministry. This sacrifice is also a sign of humility and the depth of our gratitude for Jesus saving us from our sins.
In my own words, I perceive Lent to be a time to draw nearer to Christ, reduce the noise of this world, and position yourself to be one with Him, undergoing consecration just as He did. It's amazing how much clearer we see and hear spiritually when we deny the pleasures of the flesh that often cloud our judgment and drown out His voice. For this reason, I decided to dismiss the idea that Lent is just for Catholics, because I believe that this is a wonderful opportunity to pursue a solo spiritual retreat! I don't know about y'all, but I have personally had a lot going on in my life! What better timing to invite God in, reduce the noise, and set myself apart to prepare to be used by God, just like Jesus did. I'm not sure what the rest of 2019 holds, but I know I need His wisdom, guidance, and presence all the way through. If you need to take a step back and retreat as well, I encourage you to partake in Lent this year, which is from March 6 - April 18, 2019. And for whatever you stop doing, consider starting something of spiritual benefit to you as well. This could be reading, exercising, etc.
Whatever you select, make sure that it's a true sacrifice. If you don't feel like you're missing out on anything, you didn't do it right lol. But most importantly, be led by God. And whatever you've been giving more time to than Him--that might be the thing to let go (and it may be more than one thing). If you'd like to learn more about how Lent works and how you can participate, I highly recommend that you check out this YouTube video! Let's get in the presence and draw nearer to Jesus.