If you are looking for a good Lenten devotional, here is a link to The Gospel Coalition’s “Journey to the Cross.” The intro gives an explanation what Lent is for newcomers to its observation.
What I’ve been hearing over and over from the Lord, from Lisa’s sermon on Sunday, Ann Voskamp’s Lenten blog posts, and the Journey to the Cross devotional, is that we need to cease from consuming (food, entertainment, comfort, etc.) so that we can be fed by the Living Water that truly satisfies. All else only leaves you parched and dry.
It is so easy to be consumed by our schedules, by our thoughts (regrets, resentment, criticism, pessimism, ingratitude, fantasies, etc.), by our pursuit of comfort and materialism, and by our misplaced priorities. St. Augustine described this as disordered love. That is when your love of God is eclipsed by other loves. We were talking about how an eclipse works at Bible study the other day. Lisa explained that the only reason why the moon can eclipse the sun, which is vastly larger, is because of the proximity of the moon to the earth.
And that is why Lent is such a powerful season. It is in drawing near to God that our loves are reordered. We are all on a spiritual journey that is taking us somewhere. We’re not just standing still. Depending on where you are in your spiritual journey, this much is true: you are either moving nearer to or farther from God. I know that in my own life, I need to be redirected back to the cross. I get consumed by entertainment media and comfort food and my schedule and my disordered loves. How easy is it to put the tangible before the intangible?! By fasting, we have a tangible reminder (hunger, extra time) to remember the cross, to remember God’s astounding love and forgiveness. To remember that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
If you have never observed Lent before, you may not know how to begin. My suggestion is to think of something in your life that you consume in order to feed your spiritual hunger, and fast from that. The place you turn when you feel drained, stressed, lonely, etc. If you can practice replacing those things with spiritual practices that will actually feed you, you will be able to reorient your life back to finding your sustenance in God. Lent began yesterday on Ash Wednesday and continues until Easter Sunday. We break our fasts on Sundays, “Feast Days.”
May God bless you this Lenten season.