“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you…” – James 4:8
There are many great promises in the Bible, and this is definitely one of them. When we draw near to God, He promises to draw near to us. Can you imagine that? The Great Pursuer Himself desires to be pursued; so He invites us to come as close as we want.
As we enter into the season of Lent, we want to be a people who desires to seek God and draw near to Him above all else. Today is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent. What is Lent you ask? Lent is part of the liturgical calendar that marks the beginning of 40 days (46 if you include Sundays) until Good Friday and Easter Sunday
While Lent doesn’t appear in Scripture, it has been a practice of believers for centuries. Forty days is a significant number because that’s how many days Jesus spent in the desert in preparation before His ministry began. Traditionally people have taken this time to prepare themselves through prayer, fasting, self-denial, and repentance
Often times Lent is all about what we give up and our efforts to keep our promises. Yet Lent is more than having self-control and giving something up for the sake of giving something up, nor is it to try and appease God. Religion is man’s attempt to try to control God; to make an unpredictable God predictable based on our behaviors. People do this out of fear… fear of punishment or circumstances or of “missing out”, but we celebrate Lent out of love and devotion.
Devotion means that my heart is ruined for all else and is set upon just one thing. Don’t get me wrong, disciplines are important and are necessary, but I want my disciplines to be rooted in my devotion. And my devotion comes from the Devoted One. To sacrifice something during the season of Lent means we are passionate about Jesus more than we are pious. It stems from an awareness of our dependency of Him. I want to live my life where I purposely create gaps that only God can fill. To live a life of faith!
We also celebrate Ash Wednesday and Lent not to get things from God, but to have more of God. In essence we are entering into a fast in order to prepare ourselves for a feast. To starve the flesh so that our spirits can receive from the Lord. For this is true repentance. It’s not trying to feel remorse or bad or anything like that. Instead repentance, which in the Greek is “metanoia”, is a change of mind and of heart, to think differently after, and to make a u-turn. It’s not to become better Christians or because what we gave up was so “sinful”, but because we want more of God. It’s His kindness that leads us to repentance.
So as we enter into Lent this year, let’s make it a a time of intentionally turning our affections towards God. At the end of the day, it’s between you and the Lord. Let Him search your heart and speak to you on whatever is hindering more of Him in your life. Ultimately the goal isn’t to beat ourselves down, but to lift Jesus high. To draw near so He can draw even nearer to us. May we experience the closeness of Jesus as we draw near this season of Lent.