As Christians journeying toward Easter, we must travel through the soul-searching, repentive season of Lent. The forty-day trip (not counting Sundays) will take us up mountains, through valleys, and along the side roads of reflection, taking stock, and rededication.
Beginning with the mark of an ashen cross placed on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday, our trip through Lent becomes a season of preparation for Jesus” death on Good Friday and His resurrection on Easter Sunday.
Much like Jesus” withdrawal into the wilderness for 40 days, the Lenten journey becomes for us a time of withdrawal – a stripping down to essentials, as we focus on our individual relationship with God. Through serious, disciplined self-examination, we come before the Cross of Calvary with intensive prayer and repentance. We remember our baptisms, when Jesus washed away our sins. We let go of sin’s bondage, and we celebrate our freedom from the bondage of sin’s slavery.
In our self-examination, as we pray and meditate during Lent, we carefully search our thoughts, our actions, and our deeds. We ask ourselves:
▪ Am I gladly using and sharing my abilities, my talents, and what I have for the glory of God and for others?
▪ What is my attitude toward others – especially toward those who are different, those who do not believe as I believe, or those who irritate me?
▪ Do I take my frustrations out on family members, or am I as thoughtful and forgiving of them as I am of others?
▪ Do I have habits that are not pleasing to God? Am I seeking to give them up for Him?
▪ Do I attend worship services “expecting to feel the presence of God”, or do I attend because it is the right thing to do?
▪ Am I listening more to God and complaining less in my prayer and devotional life?
As I think about all that journeying through the Lenten season toward Easter means, I am reminded of the hymn, “Just A Closer Walk With Thee”:
I am weak but Thou art strong,
Jesus keep me from all wrong;
I’ll be satisfied as long, As I walk
Let me walk close to Thee.
Thru this world of toil and snares,
If I falter, Lord, who cares?
Who with me my burden bears?
None but Thee, dear Lord,
None but Thee.
Just a closer walk with Thee,
Grant it Jesus, is my plea;
Daily walking close to Thee,
Let it be, Lord, let it be.(1)
Our journey through the Lenten season disciplines us for a “closer walk with God” and takes us into the joyous Easter celebration of Christ’s resurrection. Hopefully, by slowing down and looking inward, we will continue to daily discipline ourselves to turn-off the “going-ons” that surround us. This requires a determined act of will that allows us to live attentively – paying attention to every moment. It teaches us to let go and open our arms to receive all of the good things God wants us to receive. It allows us to develop a closer intimacy with God and to walk “a closer walk” with Him.
(1)“Just A Closer Walk With Thee.”Author Anon.: All American Hymnal, page 227. Copyright 1950 in “Singing Joy” by John T. Bemson.