Lent – a time for spiritual spring cleaning

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 13, 2016

The season of Lent begins this week. Though I’ve never attended a church that observes Lent, I’ve been doing some soul-searching and researching about the Christian tradition.

I learned that Lent is an annual time of sacrifice and simplicity, or a period of fasting leading up to the feast of Easter. The 40 days of Lent represent Jesus’ 40-day fast in the wilderness (Matthew 4), according to www.churchyear.net. It’s a season of fasting, self-denial, Christian growth, almsgiving, penitence and prayer. It’s also been described as spiritual spring cleaning.

“Lent is a good time to develop or strengthen a discipline of daily prayer,” the website goes on to say. It’s about giving up something, but also “putting something positive in its place. The best way to remove a vice is to cultivate a virtue. Lent has been a traditional time to help the poor and do acts of charity and mercy.”

A few years ago, a friend on Facebook posted that she was “Taking a break from Facebook for Lent.” Her announcement caught my attention and I, too, tried to take a break from social media during Lent.

I recall my attempt to take a break from social media was like a New Years’ Resolution. My good intentions did not last the entire 40 days. So this year, I’ve decided that for Lent I will do some spiritual Spring cleaning.

It’s time to clean the windows of my soul, clouded by the distractions of day-to-day life, so I can see Christ more clearly. Sweep away the cobwebs in the corners of my mind where doubts and fears entangle my thoughts from time to time. I want my life to be more Christ-like, so I must wash my heart using the cleansing of God’s Word – which comes from spending time reading the Bible. I hope I never find any dust on my Bible!

For me, this season of Lent will be a time to reflect, refresh and renew my daily walk with Christ. I hope to reorder the world around me. This pack rat wants to de-clutter the “stuff” that piles up all too quickly.

Professor Devin Brown writes, “As we enter into the season of Lent, it might be helpful to see these 40 days…. (as) a time to slow down, step back, and carefully examine the things we have actively made or passively allowed to become the first things and second things in our lives.”

Lent teaches a lesson in priorities that hopefully will last a lifetime. Jesus must become more important, so I must become less important. “If anyone desires to come after Me,” Jesus commanded, “Let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).

Adrian Rogers once said, “There is a great difference between denying yourself things and denying yourself.” Bible teacher Colin Urquhart has written, “The cross that Jesus tells us to carry is the one that we willingly take up ourselves – the cross of self-denial in order that we might live for the glory of the Father.”

Jan White is an award-winning religion columnist. She can be reached at jwhite@andycable.com