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Thanks for stopping by, whether you got here by a link or hitting "next blog" -- I am glad you are here. I've also done some writing on homeschooling, and what I learned thinking I was teaching.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Making Lent a Way of Life

In the church, Lent is a  time of preparation for Easter – the celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection for the dead; it is marked by prayer, penitence, almsgiving and self-denial. I grew up in a church that observed Lent. Whether it was their teaching or my obtuseness, I could not understand the point – it only showed me what a weak-willed so and so I am.  So, I gave up Lent long before I left the church. 

Decades later, though, when I began looking into what Scripture really said,  I made it through one Lenten season, faithfully abstaining from two pleasures. At the end of those forty days, abstinence taught me more than I bargained for.  I became a Christian and with Christ, I had the courage to face my addiction to alcohol.

I learned that Scripture commends fasting – but in a better way than the one to which I was originally  introduced. Fasting isn’t about just giving up, but it means taking on – becoming active in opposing evil and producing good. (Isaiah 58:1-14) So, a different slant on Lent might be seeing it as a continuing time of learning, changing, doing – not simply as a time of going cold turkey off simple pleasures. Forty days of no chocolate isn’t enough time to make me a  life-giving garden in the 21st century deserts of our world.  And it isn’t enough time to learn contentment with who and where I am.  (1 Timothy 6:6)

 Paul gave up and took on many things and at the end of his life could say, "I have learned, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content." (Philippians 4:11)
    These words show us that contentment is not a natural propensity of man . . . Paul says, “I have learned . . . to be content;” . . . Do not indulge the notion that you can be contented with learning, or learn without discipline. It is not a power that may be exercised naturally, but a science to be acquired gradually.  (C. H. Spurgeon)

 Learning contentment is key to recovery – and it is key to growing up in Christ, daily.
    . . . Living one day at a time;
    Enjoying one moment at a time;
    Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
    Taking, as He did, this sinful world
    as it is, not as I would have it;
    Trusting that He will make all things right
    if I surrender to His Will; . . . (From the Serenity Prayer)    

3 comments:

W2WBEP said...

Excellent observations. Very apt quote from Spurgeon, too. Thanks!

Flo said...

Remembering when we taught the word study at SPEP... How delighted we were to discover that Paul LEARNED contentment. It gave the two of us hope, as it does to this day!

Debbie Elliott said...

great thoughts - wish I had grown up with the practice of Lent. It's a great discipline.