Finding Fulfillment in Following God

Do you dislike Lent? Does it feel like a season for annoying rules and complaining? Do your good intentions feel somehow unappreciated or worthless? Does your extra prayer or acts of service seem empty, aimless or uncertain?

Hatred for Lent seems to be an epidemic…. I’ve never met anybody who liked it, so I started to think maybe I was crazy (Because I LOVE Lent). But, a couple years ago in prayer He gave me this revelation that changed everything!

Lent is about receiving, not taking.

When we make plans for how we think our Lent should go or what we will get out of it, we are attempting to take, not to receive.

The prayer, fasting, and almsgiving that we focus on are only designed to clean out the clutter, so that we have more room in our hearts to receive incredible blessings!

He is in control

God designs our seasons. He will give us what He knows we need most…  All we have to do is be open.

When we attempt to take for ourselves what we think we need, or make resolutions in order to “look good”, it will either be impossible or pointless. This is what makes so many of us become disheartened, bitter, or senile about Lent. (Read also: Stop Trying to Impress God)

Unfortunately, this is problem is so common, and the cause so misunderstood.

Our EFFORT is what makes Lent feel like a desert…

Stop trying so hard to “do it” yourself!

Lent isn’t supposed to feel like a desert, it is supposed to feel like a flood!

Water is powerful and multifaceted. It is devastating, yet crucial to survival. It erodes rock, carves valleys, cleanses air and enables life.

Lent is a downpour, a waterfall, a FLOOD.  It comes crashing in, largely outside of your control, to make all things new, to begin again.

Living Lent like a Flood

Lent is a chance to examine our routine, a chance to step back and change focus, a chance to deep clean our souls.

When we start to change things up and move things around we can see the lurking grime that has been slowly and secretly building up and eating away at the peace in our center. When we genuinely start to change our focus, the waters of prayer, little sacrifices and offerings, extra love and the little things become surprisingly satiating to the deep permeating, nagging thirst that we have learned to ignore because we are so accustomed to it.

Lent is meant to be refreshing

We start to feel rejuvenated without even realizing it. When you are finally able to surrender and embrace the changes it entails, an almost forgotten thirst returns to the forefront of our minds and we can’t get enough. The waters of Lent begin to permeate the drought of our parched souls washing away the dust and debris that has been accumulating there, bringing all that was dying back to life.

It takes 40 days

Have patience. Water takes time to erode stone and make what was arid fertile again. You may not know WHAT you are doing for Lent at first, and it can leave you feeling like you don’t have a sense of direction.

But, my dear, your direction is Christ.  You are seeking Him. Make time for prayer and quiet. Make “little daily fasts” with intention, even if your only intention is to know what He wants you to do with your lent.

Read also: How to Practice Spiritual Fasting in a Sustainable Way

Trust that He wants to show you, but He needs you to be READY!!!

Maybe your Lent is to get READY.

Closing off the flood

Sometimes we build up a dam.  We make a man-made barrier to hold back the waters destined to shape our landscape.

We hold back the waters that are meant to feed our souls because we think we know better than the One who sends the rain.

I ask you, how do you know the change you fear will be so bad?

7 steps to a more refreshing, better Lent:

1)      Temporarily forget all your fancy resolutions

2)      Ask God what HE wants you to get out of this Lent

3)      Practice Silence (interior and exterior) daily, and moment by moment so that you can hear His response

4)      Take on the daily crosses and irritations that are sent your way in a spirit of gratitude and cheerfulness (not fake exuberance, but rather, without complaining)

5)      Ask God to explain the meaning of the crosses He sends you – maybe journal about what you think the answers may be

6)      At Easter, take time to reflect – What did it seem like God’s theme for your Lent was? Did He want you to focus most on your relationship with Him?  With others? With yourself? What virtue did He most ask you to practice? gratitude? patience? temperance? humility? – Thank Him for what He seems to be teaching you

7)      Don’t look back – keep the changes Lent made in your life – It is the beginning of a renewal, not the end

See also: How to Practice Spiritual Fasting in a Sustainable Way

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