Finding Freedom in Lent
If Easter is about feasting, Lent is about fasting. In Easter we follow Jesus into new creation life through the resurrection. In Lent we follow Jesus into temptation through the wilderness. (Luke 4:1-13)
If you’re anything like me, you may not have grown up observing Lent, or maybe you partially observed Lent by not eating meat on Fridays.
In many ways, Lent is about preparing our hearts, our souls, and our bodies to celebrate the resurrection. The resurrection is about celebration and feasting and in order to truly celebrate feasting, we must know fasting. Lent takes us through a process that we as humans seem to need in order to prepare us for great feasting.
In our modern culture, it is easy to feast. We do it all the time. We desire fullness and the world around us offers it -- and then some! We can be a very self-indulgent people and have access to food, entertainment, and any form of distraction we could desire. Regardless of our socioeconomic position, opportunities to numb, distract, or fill ourselves are plentiful. We want to feast all the time! But this kind of feasting is almost without any kind of restraint and makes feasting become our normal expectation or reality. When this type of perpetual feasting becomes our norm, how do our hearts and bodies respond to great feasts like celebrating the resurrection of Jesus? I’ll tell you how it works for me. I can’t always muster up the joy and enthusiasm to celebrate because I’ve trained myself to be as satisfied with the late night bowl of ice cream as I am with the resurrection. Ouch!
What I am saying is that we can follow Jesus into the difficult place of fasting from fullness so that we might truly find fullness in the best things!
Lent is a practice of following Jesus' invitation to fast from things (food, practices, etc), engage in prayer, and pursue generosity that trains us for the Father's love. When we follow the invitation to make changes in our practices for 40 days, we will often fail. We will find it hard to fast from food or be consistent in prayer. When we find our limitations and shortcomings in these practices, we find God’s grace again. HIs love for us is not based on our performance and our failure in Lent can remind us of this beautiful truth.
Additionally, we may encounter the Father’s love by discovering there are things we love too much, even more than God. There are things we like to consume that we go to for satisfaction and delight quicker than we seek true satisfaction in God’s love for us. We willingly give these things over -- not to earn God’s love (we already have that) or make him happy -- but to give us greater capacity in our hearts and bodies to receive the Father’s love. We find we actually use these things (many of them good things) to attempt to satisfy us temporarily when they were never designed to provide the satisfaction we longed for them to provide.
Lent is not a comfortable journey. It’s not an easy path. It is about being led by Jesus into a place of discovery and uncomfort so that we find freedom to truly enjoy the freedom of God’s love in the Feast.
This is training for the unimaginable joy, love, and freedom we find in new creation life through the resurrection. We invite you to join us in following Jesus into this “wilderness” as we prepare to celebrate the kingdom coming in Easter. If you’re observe Lent, please send us an email and let us know so we can be praying for you.
Here’s a practical resources we are using to help us in this practice: How to Fast for Lent