Today marks the first day of Lent. It is one of the oldest holy days on the Christian calendar. As Christians, we have many holidays that we celebrate throughout the year such as Christmas, Palm Sunday and Easter. Lent is a special time like those when we can stop and remember what our lives here on earth are about.
Without even realizing it, we so easily become like the world around us. Lent is a time when believers can step back and remember that we are not of this world. It is an opportunity to choose to deliberately turn our gaze to Christ and provide an environment for accelerated spiritual growth for ourselves by making deliberate choices—choices that refocus our walk with Christ by giving up something, adding spiritual disciplines into our lives and giving to others. It is all in preparation to remember what Christ has done for us and His Resurrection on Easter.
A.W. Tozer in Of God and Men says: “But the spiritual climate into which many modern Christians are born does not make for vigorous spiritual growth. Indeed, the whole evangelical world is to a large extent unfavorable to healthy Christianity.” We’ll never know what it means to touch the living God and enter into the incredible presence of God, without us deciding to take the time to kneel down and spend that extra half hour with God in order to grow in our relationship with Him.
But do you think our flesh likes it? Absolutely not. Everything within our soulish life, our mental faculty, our will, our emotion, absolutely fights to make us stop it. As a matter of fact, any serious spiritual exercise you want to do will be met with immediate counter-attack. We have to choose to embrace the Cross and accept the inconveniences.
As believers, we are called to be separate, to be God’s. The things of the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life are constantly before us as temptations that can distance us from God. Our lives are constantly preoccupied, thinking from morning until we go to bed all about us—our children, our homes, our clothes. Our prayer time can be taken over by our needs and concerns, our wishes and fears, instead of seeing beyond our world to the others whom God also sees and is concerned about. God’s heart weeps, and He aches, and He wants to share that with us.
As the body of Christ, we are called to live in this world but not of it. Think about Colossians 3:1-4: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Lent gives believers the opportunity to choose to embrace an invitation to draw closer to the Lord and meditate on Him, to pull away from the day-to-day norm to reflect, repent and pray in the light of God’s Word and the life of Jesus Christ our Savior.
As we look toward the anniversary of Christ’s death and resurrection, may our lives be renewed with hunger and passion for the Lord and recognize how we’ve allowed ourselves to drift away from Him by letting others and other things take His place in our hearts.
Lord, let this be a season of deep joy as we meditate upon Your mercy and once again experience the wonder of Your life and death and resurrection. You did it for us. We determine to follow after You.
Your holy presence
my spirit longs for
but my flesh rebels
Memories of duties neglected
prompting of Your Spirit
ignored and disobeyed
When the poor and needy
knocked at my door
now I know it was You
Thank You for grace
mercy and forgiveness
Here I am on my knees
*Greek: Lord, have mercy.
Read more poems by Dr. KP Yohannan Metropolitan in his book Dance Not for Time