“You have made us for Yourself,
and our hearts are restless
until they rest in You.”
– Saint Augustine
The 40-day season of reflection and preparation that we call Lent is inspired by the 40-day wilderness experience Jesus had after his baptism (Matthew 4; Luke 4). His 40 days of fasting and testing prepared him for the ministry he was about to enter into, and our self-examination and repentance during Lent helps prepare our hearts and minds for the commemoration of Holy Week.
As we enter into Lent seeking to surrender ourselves to God through repentance and discipline, we know we do not enter into this journey alone. After 40 days of fasting, Jesus was at his hungriest and weakest. It was then that Satan took the opportunity to tempt Jesus to choose his own comfort and glory over his relationship with God. Jesus knows what it is like to struggle against desires that compete with God’s sovereignty in our lives, especially when we are exhausted. But he will encourage our hearts to push on as we partner with him on this journey.
The act of fasting or “giving things up” for Lent is an opportunity to take a examine our lives and surrender anything that might be distracting us from our faith walk or that we might be using to fill a God-shaped void in our lives. We intentionally put those things aside and seek God instead, opening up room for whatever the Holy Spirit would like to accomplish in and through us in this season.
My heart’s desire at this time is to be more focused and more mindfully present, seeking the opportunities that God sets before me each day to minister to others and rejoice in God’s presence. This Lent, I am choosing not to engage in social media and to limit my time spent online in general, with the hope that this will help me be better attuned to the Holy Spirit. I have found that spending a lot of time online, jumping back and forth between emails, ads, articles, and social media posts tends to keep my mind in a state of restlessness and preoccupation even after I return to the task at hand. This makes it hard to be fully present to the people who are right in front of me. I look forward to seeing what fruit will come from this extra margin in my days.
Some questions to ask as you prepare for Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent:
What is your current greatest desire when it comes to your faith life?
How can you leave space for God to work in your life this Lent?
What aspects of your life are you willing to abandon entirely to God’s grace?
Are there any activities or habits you would like to surrender in order to focus on God in this season?
Are there any devotional or prayer practices you would like to prioritize in this season?