Lent is here. I will wake up at 5 a.m. for the next 40 days and that, my friends, may create some cranky mornings.
Six a.m. is my usual wake-up, and that extra hour is like three to me. (Coffee is still in the picture, though.) I wondered if sleep was a strange thing to give up for Lent, and I found that others have chosen this, too, well, at least one, and I imagine there must be others. This morning, Ash Wednesday morning, I didn’t quite make it…5:30 a.m. was the best I could do, but tomorrow morning is a new chance. A sub-theme for me will have to be allowing myself grace for Lent.
I love sleep. I hate waking up early. It’s a sacrifice for me and I had to choose this because I most dreaded this, but I long for this discipline at the same time. I hope to focus that extra hour in deeper prayer, worship, reading the Bible, being disciplined spiritually and maybe even get a jump on the dishes or laundry? Yes, I do want to get some laundry done, and in fact, that’s the second thing I did this morning, after reading Luke 18 and praying I could be as persistent as that widow.
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and continues for the next 40 days leading up to Easter. It mirrors the 40 days Jesus fasted in the wilderness and speaks of his great sacrifice and asks us to sacrifice, too.
Today, Lent is marked by a time of prayer and preparation to celebrate Easter. Since Sundays celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, the six Sundays that occur during Lent are not counted as part of the 40 days of Lent, and are referred to as the Sundays in Lent. The number 40 is connected with many biblical events, but especially with the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness preparing for His ministry by facing the temptations that could lead him to abandon his mission and calling. Christians today use this period of time for introspection, self examination, and repentance. ~source Christian Resource Institute
It’s not just Catholics who observe Lent. It’s Anglicans, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodists, other Protestants, even non-religious people (like this fellow who abstained from forwarding jokes and silly links to his friends). I’m not Catholic, but love so many of their liturgical traditions, and my own church doesn’t celebrate Lent, but really, this should be a very personal observation, in my opinion, and forgive me for revealing what I am privately doing. (!)
Are you wondering what you can do as a sacrifice? Find an undisciplined area of your life and tackle it. It really doesn’t have to be this exact 40 day period, but it’s nice to know that you are in union with so many others, and perhaps that thought is motivating?
Do you talk too much? Try disciplined silence for Lent.
Do you gossip? Let no ill word be passed along this season.
Are you gluttonous? Then fast.
Are you too sedentary? Then exercise.
Do you drink too much? Give up that extra glass of wine.
Are you addicted to social media? Forego Facebook.
Do you love your Starbucks latté too much? Pass it up and pass the money to a friend in need instead.
I was born of two very undisciplined people into a chaotic and unstructured home and I’ve been mad about it ever since. I’m convinced that I missed the disciplined and organized genes and have to work harder than everyone else as a result. But yet I’m obsessed with people who are regulated, ordered, accomplished, self-sacrificing. There’s that Proverbs 31 woman, and then Susannah Wesley who was up early enough to pray for two hours and then spend six hours of her day home schooling ten children, and you know how I love Bonhoeffer. They all share qualities of extreme discipline, self-control, and a desire for obedience to God even at a high cost.
Maybe Lent is my chance each year to take one step closer to a disciplined and timely life? (I do hope that by Easter, I will have formed a new 5 a.m. pattern that sticks, that leads to better time-management habits.) I know, it’s not about me. It’s not about me. I have to repeat that for my own sake. It should be about emptying myself and making room for God, sharpening my mind to better know the fullness of Him.