It may be tempting for you to skip participating in this season altogether because it may prove physically and mentally challenging. But perseverance in any area of your spiritual life will produce Christ-like character, which is the best gift of all.
Lent is the 40 days before Easter. It begins on Ash Wednesday and ends with a special celebration on Easter Sunday. Although it has been a few weeks since Lent began, it is not too late to participate. It may be tempting for you to skip participating in this season altogether because it may prove physically and mentally challenging. But perseverance in any area of your spiritual life will produce Christ-like character, which is the best gift of all.
Here are five reasons why it's not too late to start Lent:
1. It’s the Thought That Counts
Doing anything well in life is mostly about intention. It's easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day tasks or revert to old habits. However, if you are intentional about changing your thought patterns so that you can incorporate new ways to understand sacrifice, you will certainly find that at the end of Lent, you are a better person and you better understand Christ. Romans 12:2 speaks to this when it says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” The key ingredient in a successful spiritual life is replacing old, toxic thoughts with the truth of Scripture. Lent is just as much about changing your thought life as it is about changing your behavior. The idea behind Lent is not about perfection but rather about focusing on Jesus daily. Changing your thought patterns toward a particular habit that spiritually aids your overall well-being will renew your mind and intentionally focus your heart more readily.
2. It’s About Sacrifice
Lent is about sacrifice. But sacrifice is easier said than done. In this culture of instant gratification, we are privileged to have whatever we want at a moment’s notice. This makes it especially challenging when we want to give up something for Lent so we can better understand Christ's sacrifice. You may also find as you participate in Lent, the spiritual attacks increase. For example, if you choose to give up sweets for Lent, you may notice sweets in every store you visit, and you may find coworkers or family members eating sweets around you, increasing your temptation. Sacrifice is about resisting temptation and developing your character rather than accomplishing a goal. Sacrifice is a difficult life skill to incorporate, no matter what season it is. However, it may be easier to participate in the season when you know other people are doing it too. This positive peer pressure will allow you to understand the gift of sacrifice while increasing your spiritual growth and getting closer to Christ as well.
3. A Little Is Better Than None
Even a little bit of something good is better than nothing. For example, if you find you've been slacking in your health, it is better to start out small with a new habit than allowing it to monopolize all of your time. Exercise is a great way to increase your overall health. But if you haven't exercised in a while, it would be a mistake to start exercising one hour a day. Start by doing 20 minutes of light exercise. Assess how your body is after a week or two, then gently increase your cardio or weight training. Don't do anything that will overexert yourself or exhaust you to the point where you stop investing in the habit.
If you've never participated in Lent, it may be tempting to choose something you treasure to give up. This may pose daunting within the first week. Brainstorm areas where you can improve and sacrifice. Choose something you can sacrifice successfully. For example, if you have several sodas every day, it may be more difficult to give up soda entirely. Try cutting out one soda a day. Gradually eliminate the toxic habit, so it doesn't feel like you're giving it up cold turkey. It's the same with television, social media, or anything else that you feel is excessive that you want to try to sacrifice. It’s not only important to participate in the gift of sacrifice, but more importantly, it is about learning the difficulty it must have been for God to give up his one and only Son for us. Lent is more about the lessons learned and increasing your spiritual growth rather than accomplishing a task or going through the motions.
4. It Will Help Your Spiritual Growth
It is difficult to start anything, especially when it's a habit that will ensure challenges. But remember, it's all about passion. You must want to incorporate new habits into your daily life. This includes celebrating a season where it's about learning more about Christ and what he did for us on the cross. For example, you may want to read your Bible more within the new year. It may feel daunting and overwhelming, and you may be tempted not to start altogether for fear you will not be able to accomplish it. Instead, try setting a timer for 10 minutes and reading one chapter of the Bible a day. When broken down into smaller chunks, anything is doable. Overcome your fears and doubts by assuring yourself you only have to do it for 10 or 20 minutes a day. As you develop this habit, you may find that 10 minutes a day is no longer enough. Increase your timer to 15 minutes a day, and so on. Do whatever your schedule allows. As you incorporate new spiritual habits, you grow closer to Christ, and that's the biggest win and biggest goal in this season of Lent.
5. It's About the Heart
In 1 Samuel, David was quickly overlooked by society as an option for the new king simply because he didn't look like what they expected: “But the Lord said to Samuel, 'Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart'” (1 Samuel 16:7). It is the same in our spiritual lives. Starting late on Lent may look like you're not putting your whole self into participating, but God knows each one of our hearts. The fact that you even want to participate demonstrates one of the Fruits of the Spirit. Jesus will honor our work, whether it’s a little or a lot, and allow us to grow closer to him. Intimacy and fellowship are the ultimate goals that Jesus wants to have with us. Lent helps bring us closer to him. Choose to participate right now, and you can still get the full experience of the Lenten season.
In our spiritual lives, we can appear as though we are getting close to Jesus by doing all the right things in society's eyes. But it's what we do when no one is looking that counts. It is not too late to start Lent. Choose today to draw closer to Jesus by participating in the one season that is not about materialism but rather about the death and resurrection of our Savior.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/FREDERICA ABAN
Michelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife, and mother. She is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services and a certified writing coach. Her new children’s book Who God Wants Me to Be encourages girls to discover God’s plan for their careers. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia, and spending time with her family and her crazy dog. For more info, please visit her website www.michellelazurek.