“Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus....” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
LENT. No, it’s not just something that sticks to your clothes. Instead, Lent is also a season of the Christian year in which we not only prepare our lives for the Easter message of life, death, suffering, and resurrection, but are also encouraged to identify with Christ by allowing us to be used by him as vehicles of God’s grace to others.
The word “Lent” itself comes from the Anglo-Saxon word lencten, which means "spring" -- a reference to the "new life" that Christ brings to us, just as spring brings new life to nature. For the forty days prior to Easter (beginning this week on February 18th with Ash Wednesday and culminating with Good Friday, April 3rd), Christians are invited to focus upon how we practice following Christ in every arena of our lives: home; on the job; at church; in our finances; and in our relationships with others.
And because of its emphasis upon the sacrifice of Christ, Lent has traditionally been a time in which Christians are encouraged to give up worldly things in order to replace them with spiritual things. As the above scripture reminds us, we are to “lay aside the weight(s) and the sin” that keep us from being the spouse, the friend, the work/schoolmate, etc. that God desires us to be.
What things hinder and interfere with you being the person who God created you to be? worry? jealousy? envy? bitterness? pessimism? fear? pride? a bad habit? gossip? a judging spirit? Whatever it is, Lent invites us to give it up -- to junk it -- and, in its place, “look to Jesus” to equip us with those things (love, joy, patience, kindness, forgiveness, etc.) that can help us to “run with perseverance the race [of life] that is set before us.”
Remember, God loves you and I do, too!