Sun of a Beach!
Greetings! We have officially entered the 40-day season of Lent! One derivation of the word “lent” comes from the Old English term lencten which possibly means “to lengthen,” a reference to the longer days as spring approaches (thanks, wikipedia). This seasonal shift takes longer in snow-drifted Wisconsin than in say, sunny California; however – God-willing – eventually spring will be sprung in the Midwest, too.
According to age-old tradition, Christians are supposed to give up some enjoyable and/or luxurious item in Lent. Formerly, this was abstention from meat or alcohol. Nowadays it seems to me that Lent is typically used as an impetus to kick some persistent bad habit – such as smoking – or to revive the New Year’s resolution diet/exercise plan that conked out after the first week.
Self-improvement is all well and good. God wants our bodies to be healthy temples wherein His Spirit dwells. However, there is a danger that one focuses on purely physical health to the detriment of one’s spiritual health. One could lose sight of the true reason for the Lenten season: walking with Jesus Christ, the sinless sacrifice for our sins, to his death on the cross and also to prepare our hearts to receive the gospel message of his triumph on Easter morning (spoiler alert – he rises from the dead!)
So, go ahead and abstain from eating [insert favorite junk food here] for Lent, but why not ADD some good practices to the mix – such as studying the Bible more and having more frequent scriptural devotions? If you are having trouble knowing where to begin, here is a good verse to start with:
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are, yet was without sin.Hebrews 4:15
In case you were wondering, the high priest referred to in the verse is Jesus. As high priest, he sacrificed himself (the unblemished lamb) to atone for our sins. Have you ever heard of a high priest who served both roles – the one offering up the sacrifice, and the one being sacrificed? Yes, I know it sounds weird, but this is how our almighty God chose to carry out our salvation. Only Jesus could accomplish this, because only he is both fully God (totally perfect) and fully human (able to die). Writing of this, I am suddenly reminded of another Bible verse:
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.Romans 6:23
Now, go ahead and do whatever special thing you were planning on doing for Lent – whether it be giving up chocolate, vanquishing bad habits…or taking up better ones. As for me, I plan on reading more of my Bible during Lent, and paying more attention to what my savior has to say. His advice is always good. In fact, I’ll even go out on a limb and say that his advice is the very BEST.
Postscript: I wonder if I can claim that I gave up California sunshine and beaches for Lent?