What do you think of when you hear the word Lent? Do you think of Fat Tuesday and eating paczkis, Friday fish fries with the family, or “giving up” something you really enjoy such as chocolate or sweets?
As we prepare our hearts for Easter, Joni Eareckson Tada explains, below, that Lent should be a time of self-examination and repentance. As we see our sin the way God sees it, we can be all the more thankful for what was accomplished for us on the cross on Good Friday.
The season of Lent is a time of soul-searching preparation before the celebration of Resurrection day. Only an honest view of our sin will give us a full appreciation of God’s mercy. Only when we understand how lost humankind really is, do we then grasp how great is our salvation.
‘Even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.’ Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.” Joel 2:12-13
The season of Lent can be summed up in one word: repentance. That’s why my best companion during Lent is my old Book of Common Prayer. Just listen to the Collect for the beginning of Lent:
Almighty and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made, and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent; Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins, and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
If that prayer sounds a bit out of fashion, it may be we aren’t reminded often enough that our sin is a stinking offense to God; that we were once poor and miserable sinners plucked out of a miry pit. As an old Puritan once advised, “Sit close to self-scrutiny.” It’s the best way to fully appreciate what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross.
Remember, Christ did not simply die for the general sins of the world, He died specifically for your specific sin.