I’ve been thinking lately about the subject of Lent. Oftentimes the anticipation of this time fills me with dread, a subdued spirit, and an overall humdrumness. I know and believe it’s a necessary time to observe, pray, and fast through, but my purely human nature would love to hop, skip, and jump to the Resurrection.
But…a few shrugs and sighs later, I know I want to make Lent special because I aim to follow Christ and to continue growing in Him.
Is it wrong for me to feel a sense of dread for the time of Lent? Well, I know that though the spirit is willing, my flesh will usually resist suffering to some degree. Although it was in total submission, we know that Jesus experienced the dread and agony of what lay ahead of Him in the Crucifixion. So, I will practice accepting the somberness of a time when we commemorate Jesus’ suffering and passion before His Resurrection.
I recently watched a video by Fr. Mike Schmitz on the meaning of Lent and came away with newfound inspiration. While accepting that Lent is an opportunity to resist temptation and partake in the suffering of Christ, I can also adopt a more courageous mindset and a “can-do” attitude.
Fr. Mike makes a few key points to inspire this hopeful approach. He reminds us how after the momentous act of being freed from enslavement to the Egyptians after hundreds of years, after watching God “move a mountain” and split the Red Sea, after being provided for, again and again, the Israelites still doubted God. They feared and doubted that they could win the battle for the “flowing milk and honey” promised land that God foretold.
And what’s the result? They suffered even more, wandering in the wilderness for forty years.
God had made a promise. He promised victory in claiming the promised land as theirs. And tempted by fear and disbelief, the Israelites couldn’t hope in that victory.
God makes a promise to us during Lent, that He rose again and that we will rise with Him. In this Lenten season, we pray, fast, and give alms in preparation of remembering Jesus’ glory in the Resurrection. These forty days are a time to heed the call of God and to believe in His promises of triumph. The victory will come, and the battle will be won. We merely have to show up and be ready to fight.
Lent is a battleground, and Jesus has called us to the fight. The Devil will always want to move us off the path that leads to God. During Lent, our “fight” is to resist this behavior, to reorder our hearts to God alone. To fight against all those things in our lives that thwart us from the path that leads to He who loved us, created us, and called us by name.
And we are not battling alone. God promised the Israelites that He would accompany them in the battle. He promises us the same. These forty days are a time to show up, be ready for the fight, and to go to battle. God’s grace is enough to help us defeat any force against us, and we can face, resist, and conquer our temptations. We can grow in virtue, love, and kindness. We can further detach ourselves from the things of this world.
So Lent is a battlefield. Yes! Not a time for me to wallow in my self-pity of giving up processed sugar or being more disciplined—but a time to face anything that I need to conquer and say, “Get away! I worship the almighty God and you, processed sugar dragon or you, iPhone addiction troll, you have no power over me!”
It’s a time where I look temptation and every evil force in the eye and say,
“Get away, Satan! It is written: The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve” .Matthew 4:10
It’s a fight worth fighting for, isn’t it?
I know it is. Because I’m loved, it’s as simple as that.
I’m loved by an infinite, almighty, everlasting, all-powerful kind of God. And I’m loved in a radical, powerful, and life-altering type of way.
God is madly in love with me, and He’s madly in love with you. He loved us, built the entire universe for us, created us, and died for us. I love the image Bishop Barron offers when he says,
“For Christians, God is not simply ‘out there’ like a mountain waiting to be climbed by the intrepid spiritual mountaineer; rather, God is himself a pursuer, hunting us down with relentless love.”Bishop Robert barron
He pursues us daily, hoping that we’ll open our hearts to Him and His love just a bit more.
God’s crazy and all-consuming love makes the fight worth it. A cause for which to rise up. My Father loves me with a relentless love and He calls me into battle.
This is a Lent I can get jazzed up about.
Though I am human and without superior physical strength, I am baptized in Christ. With that comes all the armor and power that I need (Acts 1:8).
And it can be an EPIC battle if we will truly take up the fight, and call on the Lord to strengthen our efforts. Epic with an enemy bulldozed through and sent whimpering back to where it comes from in defeat.
This is a Lent that pumps us up. So, armor up, my friends. Look all your demons in the eye and, in the name of Christ, tell them to flee for they have no power over you! Goodbye my morning coffee dependency! Nutella, get out! Facebook, get to steppin’! Jealousy, move along! Anger, be gone! Bitterness, I have no use for you! It’s a new day, and I have a God who is stronger than you!
It’s a battle worth fighting and friends, I hope you find the will to enter the battle scene and make it an epic Lenten season. To pick up the cross and follow Christ more closely, no matter how daunting the field looks. The same God who promised the Israelites victory defeats death in the end.
The more we give our all in the battle, the greater the sense of victory we will have.
Take heart, friends! Grab your sword and shield. Be fierce, and charge forward!
I’m ready for an epic Lent. Are you?