I have a confession to make: Lent was kind of a bust around here.
On the night of Ash Wednesday with the ashes of mourning and the oil of gladness dripping down my forehead, I had such good intentions about the Lenten fast I had chosen. I would give up wastefulness, I decided. Wasted time, wasted money, wasted energy and emotion. I determined to be intentional with my inner and outer resources as we began the wilderness journey toward Holy Week.
In the early days, each time I picked up my iPhone to check Instagram, or each time I considered stopping at Starbucks for a latte, I thought about my Lenten commitment and instead lifted a quiet prayer of “please” and “thank you” to the Lord.
But then life.
The boys schedules, my speaking schedule, Steve’s work schedule, my mom’s move: all the activities and busyness began to press in, and I began to freak out. One week, I stopped for fast food French fries and unsweet tea every single day. Money and calories … wasted. Most evenings after dinner and a few chores, I’d lie on the couch playing Two Dots on my phone and watching TV mindlessly. Time and energy … wasted. I wasn’t sleeping well, so at night before drifting off or in the hours before dawn when I’d wake up early, I’d scroll through email or social media apps looking for some relief from the anxiety. Sleep and peace … wasted.
I accomplished so much over the past six weeks — speaking engagements attended, writing assignments completed, permission slips signed and submitted, meals cooked, Mom moved and her yard sale held, bills paid, clients contacted — yet in the process, I broke my Lenten fast nearly every day trying to cope with the pressure of it all. Suddenly, those spare moments of wasting time seemed like the only relief.
Except it wasn’t. With each moment wasted, I knew the distraction of technology or food or entertainment was not what my soul needed. The time I spent in prayer and Bible reading each morning was a reminder of that … and an invitation to a better way. Real peace is waiting for me in Jesus.
On Monday, as I headed into Holy Week hanging my head over my broken fast, I read Psalm 51.
“For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”
That’s when I understood. Sure, my Lenten sacrifice was a bust, but it had also busted up my pride, torn down the barriers of my heart, and delivered up a thoroughly humbled … and broken … spirit to the Lord for Holy Week. And once again I knew without a doubt: I need Jesus.
It’s Holy Week, and we’ll join Jesus and the Disciples in the Upper Room. After that, we’ll meet in the Garden as our Lord wrestles in prayer with anguish and turmoil. And just hours later, the darkness will fall with the weight of heaven.
Come, go with me. There’s room for us at the foot of the cross.