Last year I entered into the Lenten season with much anticipation and reverence as I started to explore Jesus from a more contemplative perspective. I spent much time in prayer and meditation. I also fasted from alcohol. It ended up being the most amazing 40-day spiritual journey of my life. And so I decided to make many of those changes a permanent part of my everyday life.
As I entered into the Lenten season this year, I was expecting the same kind of holy ground type of experience. That’s not exactly what I got though. I fasted again this year, but this time it was from alcohol and sweets. I increased my prayer and meditation time which had become a bit inconsistent over the past year. That’s where the similarities ended.
This year, Lent coincided with a period in my life when I was being called into a major leadership role in ministry. After three years away from serving in ministry leadership, I had forgotten how prevalent and pervasive spiritual attacks can be. (A friend told me today that is also why God doesn’t allow women to remember the pain from childbirth.)
This has probably been the most difficult spiritual journey of my life. I know that if I hadn’t been heavily investing in my time with God and seeking His will for my life as part of my Lenten practice, that I wouldn’t have fared so well during this trial. I needed that quality time alone with God to give me His peace and to strengthen me each and every week.
Lent is technically over, but for me the spiritual disciplines of the last 40 days are not. I did already have a few sweets and my body quickly told me it didn’t like that decision. And at least for now, the alcohol is still on hold.
So was the sacrifice and fasting worth it? Absolutely. As God continues to call me to serve Him in ways that stretch me outside of my comfort zone, I will continue to seek His wisdom and discernment on how to do it not on my own self-sufficiency, but according to His will. It’s the best chance I have of living a worry-free life.
On to the next 40 days—and Pentecost!