The other day I asked a man if he were celebrating Lent. He said, “Yes.” I asked him why. He said, “For religious reasons.” I find that interesting. Doing something for religious reasons usually means it’s tradition. The reason that is curious to me is because it is written in scripture, “the traditions of men make God’s word of no effect.”
As we move into the time of year called “Lent,” it would be helpful if you understood what Lent is and what intention it has on your life. While Lent is often more associated with the Catholic faith, believers of all faiths use the practice somewhere throughout their lives.
The word, “Lent,” comes from an Old English word, lencten, meaning Spring or “to lengthen” (daylight). It refers to the forty weekdays prior to Easter, beginning with Ash Wednesday. It was originally a time to prepare candidates for baptism and became a period of penitence–a remembrance for those who have been baptized.
Let me here propose a new approach to Lent. Consider that Christ’s crucifixion was enough to pay for all of our sins. So, flogging yourself, or beating yourself up in someway is not productive nor is it spiritual. Denying yourself food for the sake of self deprivation does not align with the Christian faith. Most people practice Lent through some form of fasting. During their fast they focus on what they are giving up. When your focus is purely on what you are giving up it makes it more difficult, and the real purpose of fasting gets lost.
The purpose of the Cross was not just about what Christ was giving up. It was also about what He was gaining…atonement. Another way of looking at the word atonement is (At-One-Ment). What Christ gained was opening a new portal of access to the Creator, and thus access to your ultimate power and purpose. What was gained was a deeper communion, and real connection with God.
So, as you go through Lent, think more than about what you are giving up. Focus on what you are gaining. First you are gaining a deeper nexus with your Creator. A deeper connection which empowers you to connect with others in a new way. Secondly, it opens a door for you to get clear about and connect with your divine destiny.
The fasting is really about focusing on the newness of life you are creating. It is more than just not eating meat, for example. It is about what is replacing meat during this period of your life. Let your fasting be about focusing on moving old things out of the way, as you prepare for something new and exciting to show up in your life. Fast (i.e. focus) on what that new thing is. Focus on what you are creating over the next forty days.
Whatever the new thing is, it should excite you so much so that not eating a particular food or meal is small compared to the new life you are committed to experiencing. By the way, the history of the word, Spring, referred to the springing forth of new life! Create something new in your life over the next forty days. It is possible to create a new relationship, a new physical you, a new financial you. You can create the groundwork for a brand new future. It’s up to you. So, now I ask you to fill in the blank…I am fasting for____________.
(Stay tuned for part 2!)