Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. This is a time of giving up something(s) in our lives that we normally enjoy to allow for a deeper focus on what Jesus the King has done for us. Lent is a traditional 46 day fast, which includes 40 days of fasting (Mondays-Saturdays) and a weekly day of communal celebration (Sundays)… which culminates on Resurrection Sunday (or Easter).
All too often, our lives become cluttered and jammed with insignificant and unholistic rhythms.
Fasting is a spiritual discipline that creates an intentional void within our lives. This void reminds us to be filled with deeper devotion to Christ. The something(s) we fast from should be selected with prayer and wisdom, but we should never fast from destructive something(s) we should be giving up anyway.
Lent is not a “diet” plan.
Neither is Lent a “stop sinning” plan.
And we do not “accidentally” practice spiritual disciplines in the same way that we do not accidentally fall in love with someone.
Spiritual disciplines create spiritual hunger.
In this way, it is important for us to remember that Lent is more about spiritual disciplines that lead to deeper reliance upon Christ and a greater sensitivity to His sacrifice… and less about removing stuff from our lives for the sake of discomfort, depravity, and pain.
2014 marks our fourth collective observance of Lent as a family. In the first two years, we each (Ryland, Rance, Amanda, and I) selected specific things from which to fast for the duration of Lent. Sometimes these corresponded, and sometimes they did not. We journeyed alongside one another, but often we felt out of sync with one another. Last year, we decided upon a radically different Lenten rhythm for our family.
After much prayer and discussion, we decided to create a unique Lenten rhythm experiment to make the fasting elements more accessible, relevant, and memorable for our boys… while also providing Amanda and I with a beautiful variety of teachable moments (for one another and the boys) along the journey.
We based our Lent rhythm on the five senses and spread those out over the 46 days (6 and 1/2 weeks) of Lent. This experience was much more holistic and challenging… but we were pursuing Jesus the King through the practice of Lent fasting TOGETHER as a family through our senses. We have tweaked the experiment a bit since last year, and we are inviting others to join our family in this Lent rhythm in 2014.
We desire a deeper sensitivity and greater hunger for Jesus the King by hearing (Day 1-4 and 6-11), seeing (Day 13-18), tasting (Day 20-25 and 27-32), feeling (Day 34-39), and smelling (Day 41-46).
Tomorrow, I’ll write a bit more regarding the history of Lent and share a few resources before we begin Lent at 6:30pm in our Ash Wednesday Gathering at Remedy Church. If you would like to join us in this Lent journey, we encourage you to be prayerful and creative in how you practice the spiritual discipline of fasting.
May your fasting lead to a deeper reliance upon Christ, a greater sensitivity to His sacrifice, and a hunger for God’s love. And may you not hunger alone.