Growing up Southern Baptist, I had no idea about things such as Lent or Ash Wednesday. I thought lint was what you cleaned out of the dryer, and Ash Wednesday sounds like something that would have to do with cigarettes.
Walking into the church for my first Ash Wednesday experience, last year, seemed very strange. I wasn’t too keen on the fact that they messed up my make up by smearing ashes on my forehead. Getting ashes smeared on you seemed like something that might’ve happened at parties where one could have possibly partaken of too much drink. I wasn’t too sure about all this. Fortunately for me, they had explanations and instructions posted on what to do. Here’s a general description of Ash Wednesday and Lent.
Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent in the Western Christian calendar, directly following Shrove Tuesday. Occurring 46 days before Easter, it is a moveable feast that can fall as early as February 4 and as late as March 10.
According to the canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus Christ spent 40 days fasting in the desert, where he endured temptation by Satan.
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of this 40-day liturgical period of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Of the 46 days until Easter, six are Sundays. As the Christian designation of Sabbath, Sundays are not included in the fasting period and are instead “feast” days during Lent. Obviously I didn’t write this. I borrowed it from Catholiconline.com
This year, I went to the Ash Wednesday experience with a different mindset. I went in asking God to show me what, in my life, do I need to give up to be closer to Him. What do I need to do more?
I know I’m kind of behind, but I still don’t know what I’m giving up for Lent. A friend of mine, Steve Baine, once said that he was giving up his family for Lent. I told my husband, Steve, that I was giving up sex for Lent, to which he replied, “How long has Lent been going on already?!” Hardy har har! I’m pretty sure those are not things God had in mind to give up for Lent. I just hope God is kind to me and don’t ask me to give up coffee!! Maybe He’ll ask me to do something dang near impossible like give up complaining. Ugh! Just the thought of that makes me want to complain.
What is it God is asking you to do, or not to do to be closer to Him? What’s keeping you from having a closer relationship with our Heavenly Father? Ask Him. Then be obedient. Double dog dare you!
“When you fast, don’t put on a sad face like the hypocrites. They make their faces look sad to show people they are fasting. I tell you the truth, those hypocrites already have their full reward. So when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. Then people will not know that you are fasting, but your Father, whom you cannot see, will see you. Your Father sees what is done in secret, and he will reward you. Matthew 6:16-18