This morning my wife reminded me that tomorrow is not just any Wednesday with the question, “Where are we getting our ashes tomorrow?” Since before we were married Leah and I have been intentional about observing Ash Wednesday and Lent every year. This may sound strange to some who know me well, since the church where I pastor does not observe Ash Wednesday or Lent. While it’s true that our church may not observe the Church calendar in the way many denominations do, I still find great value in stepping out of my normal forms of worship and into other historic and universal Christian practices. And here are a few reasons why:
Lent forces us to be disciplined
If we’re honest, most of us will admit that we are less than satisfied in our spiritual walks. There is a lot that we desire to obtain from God, and there is much we wish to shed from our selves. But we lack discipline, and despite our best intentions, we often find ourselves falling short in our personal purging and are subsequently left searching for spiritual fulfillment. This is where the season of Lent comes to our aid: We commit to laying aside some unhelpful things and we replace them with better things. Remember, God doesn’t just call us to “stop” doing things, but to replace these negative habits with better, godly practices. So if you lack discipline, allow this season of Lent to twist your arm into a place of submission this year.
Lent forces us to deal with our addictions
We’re all addicts. And while some of us get our fix from a can of Grizzly Wintergreen Long Cut, others of us get a surge of Dopamine from mindlessly scrolling through Instagram every twenty minutes. While these things aren’t inherently bad, they are what we use as coping mechanisms in order to avoid our real issues that are trying to force their way to the surface. If you choose to fast from one or many of your regular indulgences during Lent, you will soon see just how addicted you are. And if you remain faithful to the fast, the season of Lent will pin you down, force you to face the reality of your addictions, and give the opportunity to finally deal with your issues.
Lent forces us to see the Resurrection in context
Lent is a season of Repentance. It is a dark time. An example of what you may hear from a Pastor as he imposes ashes onto your forehead is this:
“From ashes you came, and to ashes you will return. Mourn your sins, repent, and believe the gospel.”
During the season of Lent, we have the opportunity to identify with the sufferings of Christ as well as mirror his forty days of fasting in the wilderness. It is in this context that we break our fast and enter into a season of celebration on Easter Sunday. Lent forces us to walk through a time of heaviness in order that we may better taste the sweetness at the end of the journey. Lent teaches us that the cross always comes before the crown.
Maybe Lent is a new concept for you.
Maybe Lent has a bad association for you.
Maybe Lent is something you’ve never considered.
This year I’d like to encourage you to step outside of your normal way of worshipping and give Lent a chance. I pray that on Easter Sunday you will be able to tell me that you too love Lent!
 Ephesians 4:22-24