A Blessed Lent
By Martha J. Orlando
“When you fast, don’t make yourselves look sad like the hypocrites. They put a look of suffering on their faces so that people will see they are fasting. The truth is, that’s all the reward they will get. So when you fast, wash your face and make yourself look nice.” Matthew 6:16-17
The Lenten season is upon us! Tomorrow, Ash Wednesday heralds the inception of forty days during which many Christians choose to fast from some habit or activity that they feel interferes with developing a closer connection to God. Their goal is to create a deeper relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as hearts and minds prepare for the glorious arrival of Easter.
For me, however, Lent is not just about giving up something but taking on a new discipline or practice which will align me more intimately with God. In light of this, I will once again be reading 40 Voices by my author friend, Jean Wise, who blogs at Healthy Spirituality. I find Jean’s thoughtful reflections so uplifting and inspiring, I highly recommend this book to add to your Lenten regimen.
Another practice upon which I will embark is to seek intentional times of solitude and silence with the Lord each day. To aid me in doing this, I will be reading Whispers of Rest – 40 Days of God’s Love to Revitalize Your Soul by Bonnie Gray. Ironically, I order this book months ago, but never take the time to delve into it. Lent, the 40 day season, is the perfect time to start on this new adventure of learning to, as Bonnie states, “Refresh an intimacy with God in your (my) prayer life,” and “Revitalize your (my) soul with His words of love and peace for you (me) each day.
Oh, might both these endeavors produce much fruit!
Okay, so that’s the taking on part of my Lenten journey. So what, you may be wondering, am I giving up? If you were following me last year, you know I take a plunge, a deep one, and give up Facebook. Gulp and gulp again! Fasting from social media, as much trepidation as I have at the time, turns out to be a good and healing thing for me to do. To this day, I’ve maintained a healthy limit on how much time I allow myself to engage in that realm of distraction.
But sometimes, when one bad habit falls by the wayside, another rises up to take its place. Such is the mission of the Deceiver. For me, that’s listening to talk radio, a certain program in particular. While this is fun, challenging and informative, it swallows up valuable time that I could be spending with God through prayer, study, reflection, and writing. So starting tomorrow, let the fast begin! (Please, Lord, let me be cheerful about it! Is my face clean?)
And as you enter into this Lenten season, my friends, do remember that each Sunday during this time is a “mini-Easter,” a day you have permission to indulge in whatever you have denied yourself in the preceding week. After all, if God rested on the seventh day after all His work, shouldn’t we?
As Lent progresses, I will keep you apprised of the things I’m discovering and learning, and how I sense God’s presence in this time of spiritual growth. I’d love to know, too, what disciplines you have decided to take on, and what you’ve deemed necessary to give up as you journey toward Easter. Please share your thoughts freely and honestly in the comments below.
Who knows how your words will inspire and comfort the heart of others?
A Blessed Lent to you all!
Martha Jane Orlando is the author of The Glade Series and Adventures in The Glade, six Christian-themed novels that will delight readers aged nine to ninety-nine. You can learn more about her books and order them at her website: www.gladetrilogy.wix.com/theglade
In addition to being a published author, Martha Jane pens a bi-weekly inspirational blog, Meditations of My Heart, and would love for you to connect with her at https://marthaorlando.blogspot.com where it’s all about love and grace.