I wrote these words two years ago about some of my first impressions of Great Lent, the period of preparation leading up to the celebration of Christ's resurrection. We're now in the second week of Lent, and it's a new experience for me this year, as I'm able to partake a little more fully in it. (I had Raphael about midway through Lent last year.) We are called upon to deny ourselves (fasting), pray more, and to give (of our money, time, of ourselves.) It is meant to be a time of repentance, of humility, and drawing near to God believing His promise that He will draw near to us in return. The "mood" of our services is serious and penitent, leading us individually and corporately toward the Cross.
Last week was very difficult. The kids seemed to be naughtier than usual and I found myself, for all my good intentions, impatient and frazzled. On more than one occasion I dissolved in tears, feeling like I was at the end of my rope. On Friday it finally dawned on me. We have not merely entered a period of time, but a battle. If we are earnestly, although feebly, endeavoring to walk more closely in the footsteps of our Saviour, then we should expect some opposition. I wondered silently to myself "Is it worth it? I think I was nicer to my kids before I entered this struggle."
It's March, and here in Oregon the weather is fickle. I've been enjoying the brave and cheerful faces of daffodils, crocus, and dutch iris popping up in my yard. We've had gloriously sunny days, days where I've pushed my long sleeves up and savored the sun on winter-white arms. We've had torrents of rain and gusts of wind. Right now the sky is blue, sun shines on the trees as their branches sway gently in the breeze; an hour or so ago it was snowing, and by the time I'm done writing this it will likely have changed altogether. In spite of the weather though, I've been itching to get out and work in the yard and garden, dreaming of planting seeds, tending them, and reaping the rewards of that labor a few months from now. Along with the sunshine, the spring rains, and the colorful bulbs, the weeds are already springing forth from the damp soil, eager to stake their claim. There is much to do to prepare the soil if I want to grow good things in this year. Springtime is not a time to be idle, but a time to prepare.
Lent is also called "a spiritual springtime". It is time to seek God fervently, to struggle hard, to find the weeds, big and small, and by His grace, tear them out by the roots. It is a time to prepare the soil of our hearts to that the Holy Spirit can grow pleasant fruit in our lives. It is a time to turn our hearts toward Him and allow Him to soften us, to warm us, to cultivate His Life in us. Gardens, left to themselves, do not produce much in the way of good fruit. I, like my children, need to be pruned, weeded, and watered. While this time is not an easy one, I welcome the struggle, for I trust that it will be worthwhile in the end.
Spring is coming! Resurrection Day is coming too! Let us prepare our hearts to follow Jesus to the cross so that we may be raised together with Him!
Do you observe Lent? If so, what preparations are you making in your own hearts and lives? I've enjoyed reading about how other families mark this season, and would love more ideas on making it meaningful for our children especially. A blessed Lent to you!