Speaker: Tyler McKenzie
Lent: What to Expect
For the next seven weeks leading up to Easter, we’re looking back, remembering our sin that led to death.
Each week, you’ll be invited to participate in:
- Reading a devotion from one of our staff members about the work of Jesus.
- A few questions for reflection
If you commit to engaging in this season of Lent with us, it’s our prayer that you’ll approach Easter with confidence and joy, ready to worship our God who is alive.
This resource can be used for your individual growth, but we encourage you to use it in community with others. Walk through the weekly reflections with your small group, or use the reflection section for weekly accountability with a close friend.
Week Three Devotional
By Melinda Gividen
On March 2nd, my daughter came rushing into my bedroom exclaiming, “Happy Ash Wednesday! Alexa told me today is a holiday!” with the biggest smile on her face.
My initial reaction was bewilderment – I could see the confusion on her face as she wondered why I wasn’t also overcome with joy. Holidays are typically happy occasions- something to celebrate! So why did saying “happy” in front of this one seem so wrong? While pressing pause on the other sixteen things that needed to get done before her bus arrived 8 minutes later, I knew I should take a moment to explain to her the significance of the day. As I spoke about the season of Lent and why it is recognized, I found myself overcome with… you guessed it… happiness!
You can’t talk about the resurrection of Jesus without acknowledging the victory that occurred and what the cross means for each of us.
Teaching my daughter how to make room for Jesus at the very top of her list of priorities is one of the most important conversations we’ll continue to have throughout her life. I’ll try to revisit it with her as often as possible over the next 40 days in particular. (And to think, I might have missed this opportunity if Alexa hadn’t so kindly shared with her the events of the day.)
To someone outside our Christian faith, remembering the many ways Jesus suffered on the cross as a “positive thing” just doesn’t make sense. It seems insensitive and cruel. It definitely doesn’t fit the norm of what the world says will bring us happiness (winning the lottery, climbing the ladder of success, going on the best vacations, or having the most extravagant house, car, shoes, purse, etc.)
Instead of focusing on how happy a 40 day vacation would make us, we spend 40 days focusing on the kind of happiness that the cross brings us. We have the opportunity daily to confess to God where we have fallen short. We dive deeper into our prayer life. We learn to be silent and listen to God. We understand just a little bit better how much He loves us. We are reminded that even when things feel difficult or challenging, they can still be full of joy. They can still bring us happiness. We learn resilience. We see beauty in the world around us and in the people around us. Our eyes are more open and aware of opportunities to love and serve others better. What a gift this season is!
If we move through the season of Lent feeling guilty or dismal in any way, we’ve missed the point entirely! Practicing repentance and asking God to walk with us every step of the way is not about making us feel unworthy or undeserving of His love. It reminds us that our hope is found in what Jesus has already done, not in anything we can do ourselves.
While Ash Wednesday is recognized and observed in a variety of ways, our hope and goal is to admit and recognize our need for the cross. So if I hear, “Happy Ash Wednesday” again, I’ll be more aware of the many ways it truly is a happy day. It is a reminder of the celebration, joy, and victory that are coming soon!
Consider praying these words today: Father, allow this season to be a time of immense growth in my relationship with you. Remind me to take every opportunity to take an honest look at my life, especially the areas where I’ve become more distant from you. Prepare my heart to celebrate the cross not only during this season, but every single day. Thank you for never abandoning me, and thank you for the hope we have that one day we will see You in heaven. Amen.
- Make a list of all the characteristics of God that bring happiness into your life. Which one do you need more of right now? Pray and ask God to help you discover that.
- Where have you been searching for happiness instead of in God? What is a tangible step you can take to remove that temptation from your life?
- Practice repentance today. Confess your sins to God and ask Him to fill you with His love, compassion, and the belief that you are forgiven…because you are!