Will You Join Me In Preparing For Easter?

I first remember hearing of Lent in high school. A few of my friends were talking in the hallway about giving up things like chocolate and soda for the 40 days leading up to Easter. What a strange religious practice, I thought. Why would anyone willingly give up sweets? I did a little asking around and was SO relieved to discover that my non-denominational bible church didn’t observe such a tradition of sacrifice—praise the Lord for not having to give anything up. Raisinettes anyone?

It wasn’t until later in my twenties when this practice of Lent became not only meaningful to me but dare I say life saving. The end of this decade was overwhelming for me. The world and all its desires and pleasures were shooting off like firecrackers everywhere I turned. My dreams of a music career had become an idol and I’d put people so high on pedestals they had no choice but to fail me. I wanted to follow the Lord but I was a slave to whatever made me happy. I was literally gripped by desires I couldn’t get a hold of.

And then one February morning I walked into an historic home one block off Main Street in a town outside of Nashville. I sat down on an uncomfortable couch not because the cushions were stiff or sagging but because baring my soul is always awkward. Across from me was a gentle man, a wise believer. After sharing my heart and struggles with this near stranger he asked me one of the most anticlimactic questions a counselor has ever posed to me, “Have you practiced Lent before?”

My mind reeled back to high school and I thought—he’s gonna ask me to give up dessert for the next 40 days; I can’t believe I drove all the way down here for this.

“No sir, I haven’t”, I explained.

“Well, I think this could be a wonderful journey for you.”

Lent Creates Space for Something New to Grow

He then proceeded to explain that when we set something aside, whether food or drink that routinely comforts us, nightly television, social media habits, perhaps even a regular social gathering, we create space for something new to grow. I had never thought of it that way before. I didn’t just need a break from some unhealthy attachments and old patterns; I needed Jesus to plant something new in those places.

Lent isn’t so much about what you give up; rather it’s about what will grow in its place.Click To Tweet

Lent Creates Space for Solitude

When I was in the Amazon jungle last week I heard a Brazilian missionary speak on the essential discipline of solitude. He likened our times of quiet before the Lord, in meditation on His Word and in prayer, to the tent Moses set up outside the camp. He asked us, “where is your tent”? Where is the place you do business with God that’s away from the hustle and bustle of distractions?

He then went onto say something I’m certain I’ll never forget. The context of his point centered around ministry leaders needing to hear from God for themselves through times of solitude but also for the sake of their people. He explained, “Our people don’t need to know what we already know, they need to know what we don’t know.”

In other words, the people we’re leading, anyone who depends on us really, need us to be sitting quietly before the Lord and learning of His heart so He can show us the things we don’t know. The 40 days of Lent leading up to Easter is an especially fitting time to begin this practice of solitude. We may just find out something we don’t already know.

Lent Primes us for a Special Focus on Christ

Because Lent leads up to the day when we celebrate Christ’s resurrection (as well as other special days we observe the week before Easter), we’re naturally thinking about Jesus already. Whether you’re going through a Lenten devotional book or methodically reading through one of the Gospels, this is the season to enjoy solitude with Christ. It’s the season to spend your newly acquired space that’s come as a result of something from which you’ve fasted with the person of Jesus.

Think of how much better we’ll know Him and appreciate Easter morning if we march toward this wonderful day having spent daily time dwelling on who He is and what He’s done for us.

Lent is a Personal Marker in our Journey

I would strongly recommend keeping a daily journal beginning with Ash Wednesday, March 1 through Easter, April 16th. The Lenten journey leading up to Easter can be one of the most precious and spiritually intimate seasons of our year if we’ll make a plan and stick to it. Let’s seize the opportunity to set something aside so the Lord can plant something of His own sowing in its place. Here are four things that will help us do just that:

  1. Ask the Lord what He wants you to lay aside and commit to fasting from it over the next 40 days.
  2. Ask the Lord to grow something new in the space you’ve created.
  3. Focus on the person of Jesus in your time of solitude through a Lenten devotional, reading through a Gospel, or through portions of the epistles that describe who He is and what He’s done.
  4. Journal your daily experience.

Let’s set some things aside so the Lord can do a new thing in our hearts. Let’s commit to some solitude. Let’s focus on Christ and write about it. Would love to know how this experience goes for you. May we see and hear much during this reflective season.

  • Ashley

    This will be my first time observing lent and I have been thinking about it for several weeks. God as he usually does when I want to learn about something puts in my path articles or teaching in the subject. This article helped me clinch the decision to follow through with giving up some things to grow in my walk with Christ. I am nervous but I know God has greater things in store for the journey. 😊

    • Kelly Minter

      I often find myself nervous too. Is it nervous because I’m afraid I can’t do it, because I’ll fail, because I don’t want to be without the comforts or routine, because of what the Lord will reveal? Maybe all of these things. But I’m always blessed to hear the Lord’s voice as I wait for Him in Scripture and prayer in a more purposeful way this season. You can do it. It’s going to be a great journey!

    • Rose

      I feel the same way Ashley

  • Thank you so much for this post, Kelly. You are always such an encouragement to me. I have started practicing lent in recent years but have never kept a daily journal. I will definitely do that this time. I also want to recommend John Piper’s book on fasting (A Hunger for God). I found his words, in the midst of a fast, to be sweeter than chocolate. I plan to read that book again this year.

    • Kelly Minter

      Thanks for the recommendation. John Piper always shoots straight which can be refreshing especially during a time like Lent. Thank you for sharing that. Blessings on you Amy over these next several sacred weeks leading up to Easter.

  • Vicky Ackerman

    Thank you for this very eye opening perspective on lent. I plan on doing exactly as you suggested and excited to see what is in store for me. Bless you.

    • Kelly Minter

      Can’t wait to hear about it Vicky. I love the intent and focus of the next few weeks. May God speak to you.

  • Sherry Sewell Franks

    Thank you for the post. Love your Bible Studies. Love your recipes in your stories!
    God Bless You

    • Kelly Minter

      Thanks Sherry. So appreciative.

  • Sarah Geringer

    This is a wonderful post. I will happily share it with my Facebook readers!

    • Kelly Minter

      Thanks Sarah. I’m so thankful.

  • Megan Cosgrove Isaacson

    http://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/db34a2c25830863ae11f2e37e8ba0fe005515913cde38388ec410dc33e5e0aea.jpg http://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/87895b926bc447818990a2b4dba7b04610c964e6b82d5f002ac054efa490516e.jpg

    I absolutely love the question Kelly passes along to us!
    Where is your tent where you do business with God?
    From my prayer window I have a great reminder of this challenge in my view, directly outside where my husband’s tent is sitting alone. This is the view I often have here as it is where my husband tests his latest designs.
    That indeed is his solitude, as a worship pastor, making tents and spending time in them is how he gets away from the bustle of life to reconnect with the quiet stirring of God on his heart.
    My tent place is kneeling in my window.

    • Kelly Minter

      This is so interesting and unique Megan. Thank you so much for sharing pics. A snow covered tent, no less. That is serious!

  • Rose

    My tent is at work and I’m a little late to this but I’m going to read through Matthew and Luke

  • Susan Gillion

    I grew up in a Catholic home. We observed Lent each year. As a kid/teen, I would pick my ‘thing’ to go without because it was what you did as a Catholic. I had no real grasp on why and no success at sustaining it either. As a grown person who pursues God through a personal relationship with Christ (in a different denomination) I find some of those observances I practiced as a young person have taken on a whole new meaning. Your post here is a ‘for instance’. I LOVE this take on Lent. I love the idea of, not just giving something up, but allowing God to fill that space with what he sees as ‘better’. I’m so excited to begin (yes I’m late) this. I love taking the rituals and making them sweet smelling sacrifices to God. Thank you for sharing this!