Lent invites us to explore. 

Ash Wednesday marks birth into a season punctuated with life and death: the life of Christ across thirty-three stunning earth years, Holy Week’s heftiness, the suffering road to the Cross, and His grace-offered death. 

Lent leads us along the road to our own need for self-examination, confession, and repentance.

Here in Lent we can be present to interior heart work as we travel along a season meant for contemplating the life of Christ over forty days plus Sundays, symbolic of His forty days in the desert.

From the fast of Lent, we will turn the corner to the feast of Easter: the wondrousness of His Resurrected life whereby we who meet Him at the Cross in repentance can then meet Him again at the empty tomb. 

But what are we invited to do in this Lenten time? How do we enter it to prepare for Easter? 

As Jesus fasted from food to fasten Himself deeper to God, He prayed in the desert.  

Temptation roared across various arenas: Jesus was tempted to eat of the things that we each might hunger for in our own lives.

There in the desert Jesus was tempted by the same things that tempt us. The questions He confronted are the same for us:

  • Will we shortcut God in order to serve ourselves, our own little demanding god? 
  • Will we be swayed by the pull of power and pleasure for ourselves, making ourselves, another person, or another thing a little idol, a little god?
  • Will we let God be God and follow Him alone?

Several spiritual disciplines comingle at Lent: fasting, prayer, and meditation. As I examine my heart and make my confessions to God, fasting leads me to where I am fastened too tightly to food or another habit. 

God’s gentle invitation in a fast is to notice & confront the tightly held connections. 

What we choose to fast from and examine our attachment to may include food, social media, false beliefs, or skewed emotions & actions. We can exchange those unsteady connections for a deeper steadier connection with God. Fasting provides a kind but rugged confrontation that leads to such transformation.

Look below the surface at the way the physical and emotional impacts our time in a fast. We discover underlying questions being revealed. 

  • Where has food become more a comfort more than God is comfort? What’s that about for me?
  • What’s that antsy sensation about, a desire to be instantly satisfied? How does that reveal an unwillingness to wait, to hold on a bit longer?
  • How does a scarcity mindset nibble away at our heart? Where are we trying to ensure we’ll have enough? Digging deeper, where does God want to come & heal this scarcity belief system? 
  • How are we lacking trust when grabbing for more by overindulging just in case there’s not quite enough?
  • What cravings gnaw at us? What is beneath those cravings? 
  • Where do we think God is not going to show up for us? 
  • How are we controlling the scene instead of waiting in surrender for His timing?
  • What kind but healing firm words does God say to these broken places where we struggle?
  • When our eyes lock with Jesus’ eyes, what is expressed?

I invite you to get creative as you begin exploring these questions. Turn them into a place of self-examination, confession, and repentance as you let God heal your heart. 

Start with lingering here as the prodigal did: 

  • I will arise and go unto my Father… (Luke 15:18) 
  • Notice then what happens when you are still a long way off. 
  • You see your Father running towards you, throwing His arms around you, and kissing you… (Luke 15:20)

Keep going in a concrete fashion:

  • Pull out your journal. Write a love letter to God and to your fasting self. 
  • Get Play-Doh or clay. Get messy. Create shapes that help you explore what you’re feeling or imagining. 
  • Carve a figure or weave a creation that displays the tension you are experiencing.
  • Take pen and ink or paint. Express the emotions that arise.
  • Cut and paste magazine photos and words to create a collage expressing the plethora of thoughts.
  • Write a poem, song, or prayer then pray it each week during Lent. 

This is your Lenten heart’s journey towards deeper union and intimacy with Father, Jesus, & Holy Spirit. 

Consider sharing one question or insight from your creative response with your spiritual director, a close friend, or a prayer intercessor. 

May Lent’s fast lead you steadfastly in self-examination, confession, repentance, and restoration into the feast of celebration for Easter. 

Features photos are courtesy of Quino Al and Yousef Espanioly on Unsplash

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