The world is rich with calendars. They dangle from racks in every bookstore, card shop, and supermarket. They lie on office desks, hang on kitchen walls, and ding at us from our phones. These calendars divvy up our time into months and days, helping us organize our lives around the tasks we need to accomplish.
But every day a million things—some small, some large—compete for our attention. Some are subtle, using our curiosity to coax us in. Others reach out and grab us by our proverbial collars, demanding complete focus. Before long we lose minutes, hours, days to them. They dominate our time and set the rhythm by which our lives are run. If we are not intentional, the “million things” master us.
Who sets us free from these things? Jesus, of course. His life, death, and resurrection set us free from this tyranny. And yet we often find ourselves as distracted as ever, with Jesus far from our minds. How do we maintain our connection to him?
There are a number of ways, but one beautiful tool that the Church has used for centuries is the season of Lent. Lent is the forty-day period during which Christians usually focus on fasting, repenting of sin, and preparing for Easter Sunday. On the surface, this can sound a bit gloomy. Who wants to spend over a month not doing things you enjoy, thinking about how lousy you are, and remembering how God the Son was killed? In practice, though, it can be a joyful experience.
When we truly participate in Lent, we are not saddled with obligations; we are set free from burdens. Every day we are confronted with the truth that Jesus has placed his shoulder under the loads we carry. If we realize we need to let go of some sin, it becomes a joy because it helps us to better love the one who loved us first. When we fast from something, be it food, a hobby, or something else entirely, we can spend that time coming to know him better—perhaps through practicing the spiritual disciplines.
Importantly, the “million things” are tamed and put in their place. We are not mastered by them, and they do not control how we use our time or organize our lives. They are instead mastered by Jesus. Instead of being tossed around by our circumstances, we recognize that we are supported and cared for by God himself.
So why practice Lent? I can think of a million reasons.
Leave a Reply.