It’s the Lenten season. The time of year when believers acknowledge they are sinners and have a savior in Christ, and that we were created from ashes and will return to ashes and dust.
Until then, we have lives. And in those lives we have hopes and dreams and challenges. We also have chances to improve the quality of our lives. Lent provides us all such a chance—a huge don’t miss opportunity.
Traditionally, Lent is a time of deep reflection where people examine their lives. They review their actions and the impact of those actions on themselves and on others. It’s a lot of assessing, and assessment is valuable, but assessing is not all that happens during Lent.
Acknowledgement that others sacrifice for us also happens. Its root is in Christ’s sacrifice of all for everyone else. As we assess ourselves, we are aware of this acknowledgment and we know millions of others are assessing themselves, looking inward and outward.
Because millions are participating, focus is intense, and the big picture on many things—our lives and family, our work and purpose, our nation—becomes clear to us. Clarity always ushers in opportunity.
Sacrifices were made for us, and it is customary during Lent, for us to sacrifice something significant to acknowledge them. Some give up specific foods or drinks and some give up habits they enjoy. The sacrifice varies but it is personal, meaningful, and important to the individual.
As a kid growing up in a Catholic community, Lent was an exciting time of discussions. Everyone asked everyone some rendition of, “What are you giving up for Lent?” People asked not to judge but to share information. Everyone wanted reassurance something more important than their own planned sacrifice wasn’t being overlooked or missed. Lent was and remains serious business.
Back then, the young often gave up candy or colas. Teens gave up driving cars, dating, cussing. Adults fasted, forfeited free time to serve others, quit drinking, replaced ball games, golf or bowling with fixing a widow’s fence.
Of course there were the class-clowns that gave up homework and vegetables. But honestly, that never went over well. Like I said, Lent is serious business. Even as kids, we understood it’s a powerful time where great transformations are possible. That’s nothing to joke about or to make light of. Few did—at least, without repercussions.
As we grew up, what we gave up for Lent changed, but what didn’t change was the certainty of the power and transformation possible during Lent.
Some insist that power was intense focus and the transformation was an outgrowth of it. While there’s merit in such a conclusion, it’s not the whole story. Yet my purpose here is not to defend faith. I’ll leave that to theologians who are far better equipped to do it than am I. My purpose is to simply share that if you acknowledge the power and transformation possible during this season, then you can add your voice to it.
For believers, adding your voice is invoking the law of momentum. “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.” Matthew 18:19
This tells us the power of two. Now imagine the power of 2 million, 20 million, 200 million. All focused on a single thing. What, do you think, happens to the potential for transformation then?
We all know when we work together to seek solutions to difficult challenges, we find answers. That’s the power and transformation in Lent’s momentum. Whether or not we’re people of faith, we can seek personally (inward) and collectively (outward). An example:
After 911, Americans experienced a resurgence of patriotism and a renewal of American spirit. We came together, united by tragedy but focused on protecting ourselves and one another. Neighbors reached out to neighbors. Heroes emerged. People from all walks of life expressed compassion and their humanity. We might be this or that, but first we were Americans.
Like then, during Lent, many mature individuals look outward, and what they give up has them focusing on the whole of our nation. Division, disagreement and distrust fall away and people seek those post-911 bonds, embracing the motto, “United we stand. Divided we fall.”
Now these people are many and their focus to stand and unite is intense. Momentum is strong. Adding your voice to theirs, the momentum expands, grows stronger. And that is an example of the don’t miss opportunity possible during Lent.
It is a chance to unite and help build momentum. To acknowledge and respect the sinner and savior in this season, and to also acknowledge the power and transformation available to everyone.
We’ve seen lives transformed. We’ve seen power scattered and, when it becomes laser focused, its impact. We’ve seen miracles. Experienced them, whether or not we call them miracles.
What some might not know is that in every instance where a miracle occurs in the Bible, it isn’t an out-of-the-blue event. It’s a two-step process. We do our part—seeking, requesting (focusing)—and then God does His part and intercedes.
Why must miracles work that way?
There’s a multitude of suppositions. A simple one that rings true to me is free will. God gifted us with free will. He never breaks His word or His promises so, before He can act, our free will must be determined and then respected. When we seek and request intercession, or focus, we are expressing our free will choice—to Him and to ourselves. Then, He can act—and we can see and experience that power and transformation. That miracle.
And all this makes Lent a “don’t miss” opportunity for everyone. For respect and reverence, for appreciation and gratitude, and for hope and transformation.