Growing up in a structured, traditional church came with the yearly Lenten sacrifices. I would start planning weeks in advance for the “just right” thing to give up as my offering each Lent. Choosing involved making sure that whatever I gave up would hurt, but not too much. Giving up chocolate or desserts seem to be a typical “go to” sacrifice each Lent because I knew I could handle this for 6 weeks and often other family members were doing the same thing so there was strength in numbers. I noticed as I went through this process each Lent, I didn’t feel any different when I walked away at the end of six weeks. My time of preparing was bogged down by giving up chocolate instead of truly preparing my heart for the redeeming sacrifice that Jesus was about to make for me on the cross. Instead of focusing on the ultimate sacrifice and redemption story that was written for each of us, my focus was on whether I could make it without sweets for six weeks without cheating .
I realized that I had misread Lent and its true purpose for our lives.
I am learning, slowly but surely, that in order to truly prepare myself for the dying and rising of Jesus, I need to look inward at my heart and what I hold inside as important. My preparation is only complete when I invite God to be part of the process and let Him work on me from the inside out. It is only with God’s help that He can lovingly mold me into the beauty that is me by painting me with His strength and firing me with a daily dose of grace.
[Tweet “Heart preparation requires an invitation to God to be part of the process.”]
Looking inward requires the turning off of outside noise, shedding outer layers of worldly facades and opening up our hearts for God to enter and take residence. True preparation allows the opening for God to work on our hearts from the inside out. In the process of preparation, each layer is peeled back until a new creation is formed.
Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
for my hope is in him. (Psalm 62:5 NLT)
This Lent, I find God asking me to be intentional with my time with Him. His plea is that I continue to look in instead of out and look to Him instead of focusing on giving up something that takes my eyes off of Him. He calls us to honor Him by following these steps:
- Let God enter our conversations. He will take them and make them His.
- Let God peel away the layers of who we appear to be- He will recreate our inner soul.
- Let God hear our heart cries, questions and uncertainties. He will turn them into answers, promises and joy.
All we need to do is make space, create room and shut out the noise of life. We look inward to learn God’s truths and close off the outside influences in an intentional Sabbath time. We should invite God into our day and make that time sacred to hear, listen, read and learn. Intentionally adding God to our day instead of giving up our favorite sweet thing, will aid us in leaning in close to the One who prepares our hearts for His glory and His plans.
[Tweet “Creating space provides a place for God’s truths to reside, closing off outside influences. “]
This Lent, I am seeking to carve out a Sabbath time each day instead of giving up and eventually giving away the reason for preparing in the first place.
How do you prepare yourself during this season of Lent? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
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