By Judy E. Creviston
Observing Lent is a new experience for me. Though I was raised going to church, our denomination did not participate in the practice of Lent during the Easter season. We were taught that inward revelations should be an ongoing process in the Christian life. The way it was expressed is to daily seek to be conformed to the image of Christ, or to allow Him to show us areas that need to change and then apply those changes with the help of the Holy Spirit. So the idea of setting aside 40 days to focus on this practice was something I had to investigate in order to embrace.
Small Surrenders by Emilie Griffin was a good place to start.
The Lenten season begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday. This year that is February, 18th to April 5th.
Small Surrenders begins with the question, “What are you giving up for Lent?” Because I didn’t fully understand Lent, my first thought was giving up a favorite thing, food, or activity for 40 days and then resuming them after Easter… thus Lent accomplished! As I began to study more, that idea couldn’t be farther from the truth. It is clear that the purpose of Lent is to use an outward token of change, whichever one you choose, as a daily reminder of the inward change that Christ has brought to mind and desires us to focus on with the help of His Holy Spirit.
As I read or study, it is my practice to note key words or phrases that come to mind. Here’s a brief list of some of those words and phrases while studying about Lent.
Trust in Christ
Need for improvement
Strength in God’s word
Jesus is our perfect example
An emptying of myself and filling with Christ
To be more like Christ is a daily challenge and Lent is good time to reflect on how Christ is asking us to change. True change doesn’t last for only 40 days, but is an ongoing process in the Christian life. Lent gives us time to focus and move the process along in an intentional way with small surrenders.
Transformation was the key word for me in figuring out Lent and Romans 12:2 came to mind. The Message puts it in a way that expresses transformation and the purpose of Lent.
Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
(from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)
What am I giving up for Lent? …I’ve come up with a dozen or more outward tokens of change and that’s the easy part.
How does Christ want me to change? …In so many ways that the thought is almost too much to process.
My prayer is that He will reveal an area of small surrender and help me to start there.
Like it is said, “How do you eat an elephant?”
Answer: One bite at a time.