Fourth Week of Lent: March 6-12
Reflection - Katharine Savage
Lent is a relatively new experience for me. Even though I have been a follower of Jesus since I was a child, it has only been in the last five years or so that the practice has begun to infiltrate my life. Ash Wednesday, which kicks off the whole season, has quickly become one of my favorite days of the year. It is the kind of day that most epitomizes my experience of daily life – the struggle, the cries for mercy, the feeling of walking the streets marked as an foreigner in a bustling city.
Fasting, though, is a different story. It is hard. I am not even a foodie. I don’t care to own a TV or an iPad. My life is paired down already. So, the comfort items I do have, I cling to them for dear life! When I manage to pry my greedy fingers off of any of them, I begin to see where I really stand … and it isn’t pretty.
We are so accustomed to a life of ease that we don’t even realize how much our daily habits revolve around seeking personal comfort. Those good feelings then prop up our own sense of self-righteousness. We are cranky with a co-worker and attribute it to being hungry. We yell at another driver because we didn’t get that morning coffee. We snap at our children because we didn’t get our optimal level of “me time.” The missing comfort item acts as a decoy to distract us from what is really going on in our hearts.
So, during Lent, we purposefully remove the decoy. If we manage to stick to the fast, the effects show up pretty quickly. The kids are screaming at each other, that annoying coworker won’t stop talking, a spouse makes the same mistake yet again. You feel your blood pressure rising. What to do? Quick! Disengage! Hit the Facebook app and wait for the serotonin hit … ahhhh. If that option is off the table, though, we are forced to engage in a different way. The situation may go from bad to worse. Our selfish tempers flare and we are exposed.
And this is exactly the point. Forcing ourselves into uncomfortable moments during Lent gives us the opportunity to repent instead of distract – to feel our need instead of bask in our comfort. I tell my children that every time they truly repent, they dig out of their hearts another weed that threatens to choke out the life of Christ in them. There can be no harvest of righteousness when the weeds on the land are deeply rooted. Fasting can force us to see all the overgrown terrain of our lives – the pride, the anger, and the pettiness waiting just beneath the surface of our fragile fullness.
We see the state of inevitable disarray … and it isn’t pretty. For us, though, there is no despair. We know His “power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore we boast all the more gladly about [our] weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on [us].” So now, the days of Lent add up and the depth of our need multiplies by 40 days and nights. Vigorous repentance clears the ground and the palm branches are laid on the path. Good Friday makes us good again and the sweetness of Easter Sunday arrives once more.
To read more Lenten reflections, visit our Lent/Easter page and download our Lent Prayerbook to follow along with us this season!