"Therefore repent and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped out, that seasons of refreshing may come from the LORD."
The season of Lent is upon us; this is a time of repentance. But more than a simple recounting of our sins and faults needs to be at play here. We sacrifice something, in remembrance of all that Christ sacrificed for us.
To be honest though I think we often sacrifice to improve our own individual lives or well being (which when you think about it is actually a self-centered choice as opposed to a God-centered one) rather than to further fulfill the kingdom of God here on earth. For example: we fast from sweets because what we're really thinking about is how we want a slimmer figure. Does this bring more of heaven onto earth? No. Fasting is meant to glorify God, not to uplift or bring attention to us.
This Lenten season is all about sackcloth and ashes. In scripture, we often witness God's people wailing and moaning. They put on sackcloth. They cry out to God. They pour out their hearts. They ugly cry; it's full of snot, tears, and choking breaths. If you ask me, that is what true repentance, intercession, and fasting look like...
Break my heart for what breaks yours LORD. May I be so broken over my own and others' sinfulness that I can't make it through my day without a bold and heartfelt time of prayer! May I be so aware of the need to intervene that tears stream down my face when I pray for my family members to return to you. May I be so moved by your sacrifice for mankind that I begin to sacrifice more of my life and time to people and ministry and praising you.
Sacrifice is correlated to something I like to call the art of taking away. Sometimes, things are being taken away from us without our choosing. But typically in lent, we choose to sacrifice. When we sacrifice superficial things, we become more authentic. When Christ sacrificed his body in full at the beating of the cross, he took away every sin that separates us from our holy, righteous God. Sacrifice is a motion of taking something away. Sacrifice might hurt or make you feel uncomfortable, but typically leads to pleasing results in the end…Results for a greater good.
Take a moment to think about sculptures. They started off as a slab of stone or ice, a concrete block with little form to admire. It isn't until the sculptor begins to take away that something beautiful can be created. Pieces are sacrificed, in order to shape. This is the art of taking away.
When we fast, we are handing away the selfish parts of ourselves to allow something more beautiful to take shape. The same thing happens when we repent. We give up the dirty slab of concrete we were holding onto, and Christ uses it to better mold us for his kingdom work. Without hands full of garbage, we can take action in planting seeds. Without our fingers clutching false comforts, we can extend ourselves to others in need. When we repent and return to Jesus, he uses us in his kingdom work.
THAT is the season of refreshment we encounter! We become a firsthand witness to heaven on earth. Through repentance and sacrifice, we are more readily used by the LORD. When we turn from our selfish ways and begin putting others first, our soul finds refreshment in playing a part of God's grand design.
We are a masterpiece waiting to be revealed. So soften yourself up--choose to sacrifice, fast, and repent. Hand it over, turn back to Jesus, and spread your palms out wide. In turning back to Jesus we encounter grace. Fasting leads way to letting go. Repenting in full, leads to seasons of refreshment and kingdom joy.
All materials written & designed by Heather Christy.