Growing up, I attended a Baptist church in Scotland. My family didn’t participate in Lent, so I don’t quite have the same personal experience with this season that has been an annual custom since childhood for many. Even still, I could not ignore the prompting of the Holy Spirit to give myself to this time, so I began to seek out the heart and history behind the sacred Lenten season that spans the weeks between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday.
The first recorded mention of Lent occurred in the year 325. In the ancient church, Lent was a season used to instruct new converts before their baptism. It was also used as a time for those who had been far from Christ or fallen away completely to come back into the fold and reunite in community and rededicate their hearts to Christ. So in its most original sense, Lent was a time to be used for spiritual preparation.
Today, the Lenten season is generally associated as a season of fasting or abstaining from things that have the tendency to distract our hearts and minds from being totally engaged with Christ and community. This isn’t meant to be a legalistic rule – there is nothing in the Bible that requires us to fast for the duration of Lent or to deny ourselves things like chocolate or time on Facebook for 40 days. However, we are meant to use this season as a reminder and as a time of preparation.
The importance of preparation is seen throughout the entirety of the Bible. Israel spent 40 years in the desert preparing for their long awaited entrance to the promised land. Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness being tempted to prepare for his ministry that would end with what many theologians believe was 40 hours in the tomb before he triumphantly resurrected and put an end to sin and death for the rest of eternity.
So what are we preparing for?
Over the last several days and weeks, the Holy Spirit has placed a heightened sense of expectancy in my heart. I believe that awakening is coming. Christ is stirring his church. He is waking his daughters. In worship and prayer, I have felt that something spiritually is changing, even on a national level. A spiritual shift is coming, and I want to be ready for it because I do not believe that it is coincidence that these feelings have been impressed so strongly on my heart as we step into the season of Lent and await Easter Sunday.
Good Friday was the darkest day the world has ever seen, and even Jesus had to take time to spiritually fortify himself to be ready to bear the cross, but sustaining us is the promise that Sunday morning will come because Christ is victorious. I believe that this Easter Sunday when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus regardless of everything that is happening in our nation and others around the world, I think something is going to start in the historical time clock of the events that will bring the return of Christ. I believe that something starts ticking on Easter Sunday. So my hope is that you will join me in preparation.
Let me say though, that this time of preparation is not for the perfect. It is for those that are willing to put down pretense and just say yes to Jesus.
So even if you are worn down, weary or downtrodden, let me remind you, Sunday is coming. If you are hopeless, burnt out, or feeling stuck – Sunday is coming. If you are in uncertain circumstances and feel helpless to make anything better, Sunday is coming.
This is our invitation from Christ:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
(Matt. 11:28–30 Message)
Sunday is coming, and it is not contingent on you being perfect. It’s okay not to be okay, but we don’t have to stay that way.
And you don’t have to take this step alone. Join me and thousands of other women who are taking these steps together in my online Bible Study community.
Now’s a great time to join us and invite your friends, reading group, small group or women’s ministry to join us. You can go at your own pace starting with week 1.
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It’s never too late to start again, and there’s no better way than side by side with Jesus.