1st Reflection in Lent

Titus 2:12 ESV

Training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,

“Giving something up for Lent,” has always struck me as unhelpful. I only say this because people truly struggle with the notion of being deprived of anything. As a spiritual exercise, we are aiming for something much deeper than simply giving up our caffeine addiction. Few folks realize our lives are filled with countless distractions and idols which draw us away from our holy Savior. Like the “hoarders” we see on TV, we surround ourselves with stuff that truly doesn’t bring lasting satisfaction but definitely qualifies as an impediment to our actual spiritual growth. These idols take up resources and our worship which belongs to our blessed triune God alone. We do this because of our fallen nature which wants a god who serves us rather than us rightly serving He who is sovereign over all.

Hence, our need for a season to practice spiritual decluttering.

“Spring” cleaning isn’t just about your house, but as we head to that glorious season of new life, we also acknowledge that we often have mistakenly accrued or submitted to the world’s fancies as the source of our joy and purpose. Think how many times we have become wildly passionate about something, believing it would fulfill us in countless ways, only to watch our ardor for it fade into nothing as we seek the next new fad? I don’t know about you, but it is frustrating to think that somehow we still regularly fall for a sales pitch promising lasting gratification outside of Christ! We’ve all done it…

Lent is a solemn time to root through our spiritual impediments and begin the task of hauling out that which promised much but delivered little. As we clear space from things that have wrongfully captured our adoration, we open our hearts to that still, small Voice thundering eternal truth. A Voice that promises and has never failed to fulfill. We become more nimble in responding to genuine missional needs because we aren’t tripping over our infatuation with folly. See how that works? There is absolutely no deprivation in this, only the excitement of rediscovering our gracious God who alone satisfies!

So, take a deep, prayerful breath and start poking about. Fervently ask the Lord to guide you to whatever is currently holding you back from a closer relationship with Him, and anything that inhibits your growth in holiness. Be honest and unyielding in what needs to go. Focus on the humbling expectation of once again finding the unmerited goodness and mercy of God in the wondrous gospel of His Son as those sinful attachments are removed. Then remember to place Christ at the center stage of your life and work zealously to keep Him in constant sight. I’m pretty certain that is where Paul was going in that verse above in his letter to Titus. A godly, self-controlled life has always been a Christ-centered life.

In His love,

John