Today is a weird day.
Today is Valentine’s Day.
Today is Ash Wednesday.
While many of us know what Valentine’s Day is, we may be a little fuzzy on what Ash Wednesday is. In a nutshell, Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the Lent season marked (literally) by ash used to remind us of the dust from which we come and to which we will return. (Genesis 3:19)
It doesn’t seem like a Hallmark holiday and a sacred ritual should overlap – and most years they don’t.
But, while having rose petals scattered on the ground and black ash smeared on your forehead seem diametrically opposed, they may be more similar than they appear.
Ash Wednesday prepares us for Lent and Lent prepares us for Easter. In the practice of Lent, we learn to fast, to give something up.
Fasting isn’t a dieting plan.
It is a denial plan.
We deny ourselves something. We willingly give up something and use that time to rely on God.
Lent takes place each year in the 40 days leading to Easter just as Jesus fasted 40 days in the wilderness before beginning his ministry on earth. During that time, Jesus was giving up food in order to focus on a higher calling. This is why we give something up for the next 40 days.
We deny ourselves to rely on God.
If we deny ourselves food, we rely on God’s strength to sustain us.
If we deny ourselves media, we rely on God’s presence with us during that time.
If we deny ourselves purchases, we rely on God’s use of our money for a better cause.
The idea is not just to give something up.
It’s giving up something good to receive something better.
Not because God requires this from us. Or that our good actions force God into doing something in return. This isn’t an “I’ll scratch your back, you scratch mine” situation.
God doesn’t want something from us. He wants something for us.
Giving Him space to work more of our time, more of our attention, more of our energy isn’t going to be returned void.
Over the next 40 days, would you join me in this practice of Lent?
Would you pray for our community, our church, and our culture?
Give something up and replace it with something better. Replace it with prayer, with thought, or even with action.
As we’re in this relationship series at Restoration, this truth is in relationships. Healthy relationships are opportunities for us to give up something good for something better.
We give up our Friday nights, our sleep, and some of our sanity for our children.
We give up our independence, our selfishness, and ourselves for our spouses.
We give up our time, our energy, our self-interest for our friends.
We’ve given up something good for something better.
Valentine’s may be a perfect time to begin this new venture.
But, jump in anytime!
I’ll be posting once a week about the verses that are traditionally used during Lent.
Let me know how it’s going and how I can help you!
KEVIN STAMPER | LEAD PASTOR | @KEVINSTAMPER