Why I Like Lent

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Like many Baptists, I did not grow up following the Christian calendar and observing the seasons of Advent or Lent.

Perhaps that neglect is what fuels my connection with the Lenten season as an adult. What used to be a dull and uninspired season in late winter has become a time of growth and personal examination. Lent provides a structure, methodology, and focus for my practice of personal spiritual disciplines.

More meaningful than fun, Lent is now a season of the year I anticipate and resonate with in profound ways.

As an extrovert, it’s easy for me to distract myself by engaging with others. Lent gives me an opportunity to engage in serious introspection because it’s not just following a daily routine. There is a purpose behind my daily devotions and quiet times. I am asking myself serious questions about the habits and mindsets I need to change and the sins from which I need to repent.

The serious introspection goes hand-in-hand with what I’m learning and teaching in weekly Bible study and worship. Sunday school and the pastor’s sermons are more meaningful because they connect thematically more closely with what I’m doing during the week in my daily time of prayer and reflection. Like most people, I avoid asking myself tough questions. Lent forces me to look at myself honestly and it calls for a response.

The season of preparation also brings those spiritual disciplines into tighter focus. What am I praying for? How am I praying? When do I pray? Prayer becomes more meaningful because I think about it rather than just go through the motions. I understand that prayer is conversation with God, but most of the time I default to talking at God rather than with God. Lent is a season when I spend more time quietly listening, not just giving God my lists of requests.

And depending on what devotional material I’m using (for what I find helpful, check out this post from January), my Bible study moves to a deeper level. I don’t just read a few verses and go about my day. I take time to process the Scripture and journal about its meaning and application for that day and my life overall.

What I like most is the content. With Holy Week and Easter just around the corner, it’s easy to jump to Jesus’ death and resurrection. But it’s Jesus’ life that provides us a model for living. I know perfection is unattainable, but when I read the gospels and truly examine the choices Jesus made in his day-to-day life, I am challenged and inspired to emulate them. I am called to rise above my natural choices and truly reflect the presence of Christ in each setting I find myself.

The journey to the cross is heavy and can feel oppressive, but when I remember that Jesus has shown me the way, it’s a journey I make with a roadmap.

Introspection, preparation, intention—I could do all of this in my spiritual formation apart from Lent, but I don’t. I like Lent because it enriches my spiritual journey and fuels my growth throughout all seasons of the year.

Lance Wallace is a Baptist layperson and member of Parkway Baptist Church in Johns Creek, GA, does media relations and issues management at his day job, and blogs at newsouthessays.com.

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