Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, which is a period of 40 days (not counting Sundays) until Easter. Traditionally, Christians (as least in the liturgical denominations) have given up something for Lent in order to participate in and better understand the sacrifice of our Lord. In addition, the sacrifice is supposed to bring one closer to God as He becomes that which fills the need or desire otherwise fulfilled by the thing given up. Some people give up chocolate, or desserts of any kind. Others give up watching TV or eating meat. There is an endless variety of things that one can give up, or sacrifice, during the Lenten season.
Last year for Lent, I decided that instead of giving something up for Lent, I was going to commit to doing something, and I blogged about it on Feb. 19. I fulfilled my committment to blog something positive every day for Lent. That was the beginning of a discipline of writing that has now developed into daily posting. And it all began with one short post and a committment to praise Jesus for His love and sacrifice for 40 days.
This year, my local congregation is doing something similar for Lent. We are participating in a program called Wordstrong. It involves each member of the congregation committing to reading God’s Word every day throughout Lent. Last Sunday we received our reading schedules for Lent, and we have arranged prayer partners to pray for discipline for the rest of the congregation throughout this time. Those who chose to participate signed a poster pledging their committment.
I am excited to see where this Lenten discipline takes us as a congregation. If what happened with my committment to blog every day is any indication, we should be a congregation for whom this Lenten program is just the beginning of a discipline of being in God’s Word on a daily basis. Wouldn’t that be awesome?
So if committing to doing something every day for Lent is the beginning of discipline, what is the end of discipline? It is to develop a closer relationship with God. The discipline of reading the Bible every day will draw the believer closer to God, so that they may hear when He speaks to them. It is much easier to discern God’s will if one knows God’s Word.
The true end of discipline is a relationship with God that results in an abundance of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
So what do you plan to do, if anything, for Lent? Have you ever done something for Lent in the past, and if so, what was the result? Did it bring you closer to God? I’d love to hear about it in the comments! Whatever you decide, I pray you will draw closer to our Lord as we approach the celebration of His death and resurrection.