The forty days of Lent are an opportunity for a season of renewal that culminates in Easter Sunday. It’s a time to focus on turning away from sin and to Christ, our Savior and Lord.
Paul said, “I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord… I want to know Christ… becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead” (Phil. 3:8-11).
Of course, it’s one thing to want to live like Paul and it’s another to actually accomplish this! How do we do this? Paul answers, “Train yourself to be godly” (1 Tim. 4:7). We train ourselves with disciplines.
Lent is a great time to experiment with a discipline for spiritual life in Christ. “Discipline” may seem like drudgery, but it’s what enables us to live with delight and dedication!
It’s a surprise to many people but the season of Lent is meant to joyful. “For the joy set before him Jesus endured the cross” (Heb. 12:2). Jesus taught us to look our best when we’re fasting not because we’d be miserable and should pretend to be happy! He knew from personal experience that fasting can be feasting on God. (Matt. 6:16-18)
Picture the Cross and Empty Tomb
Here’s a discipline to try. It helps me to imagine the cross of Christ and his empty tomb…
Keep picturing these scenes, as if they’re open windows in your mind. Pray, “Thank you Lord Jesus for your cross… Thank you for your resurrection…” Meditate on the virtues of Christ’s sacrifice and eternal life…
You might look to deny yourself something — perhaps some food, rushing to get through a stop light, or speaking a word that might draw attention to yourself. This is “taking up your cross” to follow in Jesus and it strengthens your capacity to be generous and kind to others.
My heart has been warmed and my life re-shaped by the stories of Jesus and his cross during Holy Week. I invite you to join me on the life-changing journey of my 68-page booklet: Unforsaken: With Jesus on the Stations of the Cross.
May you and your friends be blessed by the cross and empty tomb this Lenten season.
More Free Resources for Lent (Or Practicing Joyful Self-Denial Anytime of Year)
“Give Up All Things For Resurrection Life” is a PDF Lectio Divina Guide using Philippians 3:7-11. This is great for a small group or private devotions.
“Hungry Heart Scriptures” features Bible verses to cultivate greater longing for God and introduces how fasting can be feasting! This discipline is powerful!