I am a week late with this post. I meant to have it written out and published by Ash Wednesday. That didn't happen. Why? I got tripped up in details. That happens to me. If there is one outstanding thought not squared away, then I get tripped up and do not move forward. Fortunately, this doesn't happen to me daily, but when it occurs it does prevent me from meeting "deadlines" or taking care of the overall issue in a timely manner. I'll explain what tripped me up in a moment.
I am not Catholic. I say that because practicing Lent tends to be a Catholic gig, or so it seems. I am a Christian; Protestant. Evangelicals do not seem to practice Lent...or even Advent for that matter. Some say Lent is not biblical and therefore is not to be observed. I cannot speak to if it's biblical or not. It may very well be but just not concretely stated. It may very well not be. But, I do believe there is something to be said for traditions. When approached with the correct mindset, understanding, and attitude --- traditions can be a very good a tool for deeper learning, relationship with God, and remembrance.
For me, Lent is not about a biblical mandate but rather a personal time of observance. A time to purposefully reflect on the passion of Christ. To not allow my observance of Easter to melt into a day that passes by far too quickly without deep reflection.
Lent is not about earning my salvation. It's about seeing "how depraved I am. How incapable I am in the flesh, how in bondage I am. That I can’t keep any law perfectly." (Ann Voskamp) To intentionally remember Jesus' sacrifice - His horrific death of being hung on a cross for me - so that I can receive God's gift of grace. And, "by grace I have been saved through faith." (Ephesians 2:8–9)
I did get tripped up, however, when I started thinking about how I was going to go about observing Lent. There are reading plans. There is the "do not eat meat on Friday" rule except for fish. Ummm...where did that rule originate anyway? It doesn't make much sense to me. There is the tradition of giving something up as a sacrificial act; an act that reveals my sinful nature...my need for Jesus. I started overthinking all these "to-do" ideas. It started to become an observation of works, and that's not the purpose. So, I let go of the "doing" and focused on the purpose. For us, it means keeping it simple with readings and discussion and maybe...just maybe...a purposeful activity. And for me, it also means sacrificing something for 40-days.
It then dawned on me. To reflect on Christ, His sacrifice, I do not need to do a specific "Lent" reading. I am already digging into my Bible on a daily occurrence . But, closer to Easter, I would like to do a study that specifically looks at the passion of Christ. My children? We will do family readings; not daily for 40-days. I am tossing around two ideas; the 11 scriptures we read last year with visual cards we hung, or readings from the free Easter Devotional Book by Ann Voskamp.
What shall I give up? This is not a requirement, so it's not an expectation of mine for anyone. It's a personal choice. If my children feel lead to give something up during the Lent season, then fabulous. If not, it really is a-ok.
For me? I am choosing to give up my phone's ability to access email, Facebook, Internet, and other social media. Except for Instagram, and upload abilities to my photo sites -- the reason is because I am in the middle of a personal challenge to document the rest of my B90Days journey via IG.
Giving something up should be an act of drawing closer to God; becoming more Christ-like. My phone's capabilities beyond talking and texting draw me away from God. It eats up time that I could and should be spending with God.
Notice, I did not say I am giving up email, Facebook, and the internet. Just the route I use to access that stuff. My access will be greatly limited; not so readily available. My iPad and computer will be my routes. Both need wifi, and are much more than an arms length away.
This means, my time on these sites, and email will be far less. My mind will be more willing to actively pursue God during those moments I wasted on my phone. My mind will be more willing to be actively involved with the family too. And that's certainly an area for which reveals my need for God's grace...His gift for my salvation.
What about you? Do you observe Lent? If so, in what ways do you purposeful practice Lent?