By Natalie LaValley

We’re in the fourth week of Lent now. In some church traditions, Lent is a very important time, and in other churches, it’s not practiced. I happen to have grown up not practicing Lent, but in recent years I have found, as many others have, that it is an amazing opportunity for rededicating myself to God. The key is to approach Lent out of Christian freedom, knowing that you don’t have to fast from meat to go to Heaven, and God will still love you if you forget it’s Friday and eat barbeque (like I did – whoops).

Lent isn’t about not eating meat. It’s a season focused on reflection, confession, and renewal before God. In many ways, it’s also a season of rest. It often involves giving up something that normally occupies our time so we can be still before God. Social media fasts and limited screen time are becoming popular Lent fasts, and for good reason. I don’t know about you, but I’m so busy that I often wish I could just hit the pause button and reflect on what I’m doing with my life and how I could be living better. We waste too much time living with our grudges, bitterness, fears, mistrust, and insecurities instead of actually addressing them and doing something about them. Lent is basically an annual opportunity to do exactly that. And because it’s forty days, it’s much more effective than just making a resolution on New Year’s Day that you forget in February. Forty days is approximately enough time to start building a habit. Last year for Lent, being an overachiever, I was tempted to commit to some spectacular spiritual discipline. But I knew that I was struggling in my spiritual walk at a much more basic level; my daily devotions were in a shabby state. So I simply committed to having daily devotions in the morning and evening. By the time Lent had finished, I had rediscovered the value and joy of daily, focused communion with God. Even though I still miss some days, especially when a trip or event throws off my routine, it’s become a part of my daily pattern all through the year again.

We’d like to think that we can reform our spiritual lives any time. Why should I practice Lent when I could choose to practice a spiritual discipline any time of year? It’s true, I could. But will I really? I’m an idealistic person full of amazing visions I carry out to completion about 1% of the time. I need the accountability of other people practicing Lent at the same time to help me commit to my spiritual disciplines.

I’d like to think that I can have a perfectly balanced walk with Christ all year long, but, as Ecclesiastes shows us, it seems God made us to live through one season at a time. Right now, this season is Lent. Let it be a restful time of reflecting on your walk with Christ and preparing to celebrate His resurrection.

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