By Dorette Saunders
While many “give up” certain foods or abstain from certain behaviors during Lent, the season (February 22- April 8, 2023) gives us an opportunity to look more closely at Jesus and his life-giving sacrifice. By doing so, we are better positioned to look at ourselves, repent of our sins, and fast and pray.
At Christmas, a children’s hymn asks what one can give the baby Jesus. After finding several gifts out of reach, the following reply comes back, “Give him my heart.” The same is true at Lent. Jesus, the Savior of the world, wants our heart. And, it is a worthy gift if our hearts have been prepared by the Savior himself.
The psalmist, David, realizing that he has sinned, begs God for a “clean” heart.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10, KJV).
We all need a clean heart. We cannot fix ourselves because our cleansing comes only from God. And, we are only acceptable to God when we acknowledge Jesus as Lord and Savior. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and we can only approach God through Jesus Christ.
Try to focus on the Scriptures during Lent more than the idea of abstention or taking on projects or new behaviors. Allow the Spirit of God to remind you that Jesus is the suffering servant, your sustainer, satisfier, and Savior.
As you pray and/or fast, ask God to replace selfishness with generosity, worldly desires with self-discipline, and personal pride with a hunger for God’s righteousness.
Do your part as you endeavor to walk in Jesus’ footsteps. Seek out and feed those for whom nothing has been prepared. Care for the least of Jesus’ brothers and sisters, who are our brethren, too (Matthew 25:40). Bind up the wounds of those who are ill or brokenhearted. Visit those imprisoned with metal bars, or mental bars. Love with a heart prepared for service.
We journey with Jesus during these long Lenten days, vicariously experiencing his pain and rejection, and wrestle with understanding how Jesus’ heart is big enough to embrace each of us despite our many sins and shortcomings. There are no pat answers. But we know from Scripture that Jesus loves us—all of us—more than we realize. By celebrating Lent, we recognize and honor Jesus Christ’s love and redemptive sacrifice on the cross of Calvary.
Lent is a period of looking at Jesus, and then at ourselves. It’s a time for accepting Jesus’ love, and loving those whom he loves…and it all begins with having a clean heart.
PRAYER: Heart-cleansing God, give each of us a clean heart that we may worship and serve you, and your people. We are forever grateful for your love and sacrifice on Calvary’s cross. Help us to use these days to love you more dearly, and to follow after you more closely. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.