It seems like we were just celebrating the birth of Jesus and the advent of a New Year…time really does fly! Next week starts the celebration of Lent, beginning with Ash Wednesday, March 6th. Traditionally, Lent is a seasonal observance of 40 days of fasting, devotion and prayer in order to reflect upon Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for us upon the Cross.
The ultimate “reason for the season” is to draw closer to God. Through religious observance, sacrifice (fasting), and re-commitment many challenge themselves to a higher level of spiritual experience with Jesus. Around this time of year many give up things like: sweets, soda, certain foods, chocolate, TV, internet, hobbies or personal interests. In our world today, giving something up in order to get something doesn’t always make sense. We don’t naturally want to give up one good thing to get another. We just want to add one more thing, and then another, and then another…until our hands are so full that we can’t grasp even one more thing.
But Jesus told His disciples, “whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” (Luke 9:24) Jesus pointed to a paradox of life — the more we try to hold on to something, even something good, the more it slips through our fingers. But, if we surrender everything to him, including and especially the good things, we will gain more than we ever expected. It is the way of the Cross, Jesus said that as His disciples we must deny ourselves and take up our cross daily and follow Him (Luke 9:23).
For ultimately, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?” (Luke 9:25) As we enter this season of Lent, is there anything that God is telling you to put down so that you and He can be closer?