What About Lent? Is it a Self-help Program?

I’ve never really made internal sense of Lent.

I get the symbolism, abstaining or fasting from something meaningful to h onor Jesus’ forty-day wilderness temptation. I’ve tried the abstaining thing a few times, but honestly I’ve never noticed much change. I’ve talked to friends who observe Lent. It appears to mean a great deal to them, but I’ve never gotten a handle on the central point.

Obviously I was checking off an item on the list without investing the effort to make it mean something in my relationship with Jesus. There’s little point to that. It doesn’t fake out God and it frustrates me.

I basically dismissed Lent as one of those traditions that just doesn’t apply to me and my modern world. I know that’s code for “I don’t want to do the work to figure it out,” but that’s where I left it.

Last week I read an essay by Susan Isaacs called Lent Is Not A Self-Help Program. The article posed a powerful premise.

Lent is not a self-help program. It’s a crash course in getting real with God.

I’m interested in “getting real with God” so I looked at the questions she posed.

What is that one sin you have a hard time giving up?

I expected that one. Is Lent about narrowing it down to the one sin to which I cling?

Somehow, I don’t think that’s it. I know I hang on to some sins, and I need to work on that. But God and I have gone round and round those issues before. Still got work to do, but those aren’t part of my personal crash course on getting real with God.

What if the thing you can’t give up isn’t a sin? What if it’s a deep wound in your soul that is so enormous you cannot let anyone near it, least of all God.

Ouch. That wasn’t academic. That one hit a tender spot, a place I try to protect and cover. I don’t want it exposed, not really. I’m afraid of what might happen if I opened it up.

My best friends don’t know. I won’t tell you. I sort-of-talk to God about it, but not really.

So there it is, the place I need to get real with God. Now, the problem.

There’s a difference between need to and willing to.

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Copyright 2008-2013 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.

Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

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