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What Lent Teaches Me About Modern Society

Written by Jess White

April 1, 2022

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On the first Friday in Lent, my pastor asked us to imagine what our lives would be like if we spent all of our time doing only two things: preparing for our next meal and praising God.

“It requires a tremendous amount of discipline,” he said. “You have to make a choice: what you’re going to spend your time doing.”

I’ve been doing it.

I’ve been spending most of each day in prayer, listening to God’s voice, reading the Bible and learning about God’s law. What an adventure! It’s like a roller coaster ride. Sometimes I’m on top of the world. I love all my new discoveries. But sometimes, I’m in a downer. God’s word challenges me to be more like him.

What Is Lent?

It turns out, the deeply rooted life isn’t even a 40-day project. It’s the business of a lifetime.

On the first Friday in Lent I didn’t make it to my regular prayer and Bible study group at St. John’s in San Francisco.

That’s when I started feeling the pain of having missed an appointment with God.

I had no idea that God would call me to go through a similar crisis the very next day. My experience reminded me of what Peter wrote in his first letter: “We have heard of your obedience, for which a record has been made in the sight of God.”

When Jesus Christ was on earth, his disciples spent their entire lives walking with him and listening daily to his voice.

They had no idea how long the call would last. But what a journey it was! The most intimate moments of Jesus’ life were spent “in prayer, and with fasting.” In fact, the Gospels present the disciples as having a “fasting in the way” of following Jesus.

These days, I’ve been doing the most important things in the right way. But the Lenten adventure isn’t over yet. I know that after Easter, Easter will pass and then I’ll begin my life again.

I know that I’ll wake up in two years and I’ll remember how much I valued these disciplined days of prayer and study. I also know that I will start each day with a deep sense of regret.

Lent offers us a glimpse of how life worked for the disciples. What about us? We can learn a lot from their discipline.

I know that one of the best ways to learn is from the stories in the Bible.

I’d like to share with you what I’ve been learning from Lent.

But first let me address some of the challenges you may face this year. There is a lot of talk about the “spiritual but not religious” people who are disconnected from their Christian faith. I’ve talked about this too. I’ve been thinking about what I want to say to such people. I don’t think that “spiritual” describes a person’s relationship to God. If Jesus were here right now, he’d say, “Don’t call yourself a son or daughter of God.”

As for those who have no faith, I want to ask them, “And what do you think you would become without God?”

What Can We Learn From Lent

Lent offers us a glimpse of how life worked for the disciples.

What about us? We can learn a lot from their discipline.

Most of the people I’ve been talking to say they do have faith — they have an awareness of God. But they haven’t been praying “day and night” in the disciplined way I’ve been doing lately. They’re living a kind of half-life.

I don’t think this can last. The Spirit works on our hearts. In Lent, I had an open heart. I’m willing — eager — to be an open prayerful person. I want to be a person whom God can use to make his will known to the world. I want to be God’s vessel of love and mercy. I want more of God’s love — in my family, my friendships, my community, the workplace and with the people I serve.

People like me will always be more willing to pray and study when they feel that God is calling them to it.

So, during Lent, I’m going to try to listen more closely and pray more often.

This may not seem like much, but if each of us makes a daily effort to walk in God’s ways, he will use us to reveal who we really are. Then he’ll transform us into the people he is forming us into.

So my friends, I invite you to join me on this Lenten journey. You’ll never regret it. I know it. And neither will God.

Blessed Lent, and a blessed Easter!

Amen.

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