If you’re like me, then you may not have grown up hearing about or practicing Lent. For those unfamiliar with this Christian season (and suspicious of anything new), here’s what you need to know: its practice is rooted deeply in three ideas presented in Scripture.
The first is that we came from dirt and it is to the dirt our bodies will one day return. It is a way of remembering our mortality, or finiteness, of the inescapable truth that we will one day die.
The second is that we are free to lean fully into our mortality during this season by joining Jesus in laying down our plays for power and significance and our greedy appetites. It’s an invitation to to lay down our life and pick up the cross daily and a series about the daily struggles to give up our own way of living in exchange for the cross shaped way of living.
The third is that we are to begin this journey alongside Jesus not in those places where Jesus is surrounded by celebrating crowds or in those moments of his life changing teaching or miracles, but in the empty, barren, and desert places where Jesus is being tempted.
Although many of the churches in my own tradition do not commemorate Lent as an official season, I’d like to invite you to join me in a personal season of repentance and reflection. Keep reading below to see what this might look like if you decide to join me.
As a part of my daily lenten reflection, I’m asking the same question each day:
“What keeps me from giving up?”
This isn’t the kind of question that examines endurance – the kind of fortitude and commitment needed to stick with something over a long and often difficult time. This kind of determination is needed in life, but what I’m asking has less to do with endurance and more to do with emptying.
Instead of asking what keeps me determined to gain ground, I’m asking what keeps me from denying myself and giving up ground so that I can walk alongside the one who laid down his life and took up his cross in order to fully love humans as a one who is fully human.
So each day I’m asking, “What keeps me from giving up?” and in doing so I’m hoping to discover the things that are needlessly taking up space in my head, heart and hands.
I’m asking “What keeps me from giving up?” because my life has an excess of the wrong things, though not always inherently bad things, but the kinds of things that keep me from being filled to the measure of fullness with Jesus’ own love being lived out in me.
I’m asking “What keeps me from giving up?” because I need this season of repentance and reflection more than I even know, because unless I stop long enough to ask these kinds of questions I will continue to not give up on the wrong things and then continue to give up on all that is right.
So, will you join me in praying for me during this season as I continue to ask “What keeps me from giving up?” Will you pray that I discover some of the reasons why my hands are bound to hold onto pride and power and progress – and will you join me in praying that I learn to eventually give up, to lay these things down, and to exchange them for a better way?
If all of that is too much to remember then will you join me in praying this simple prayer:
Pray for me to be empty, and pray for me to never give up on giving up.