As we enter the season of Lent one of the question first and foremost on people’s minds will almost inevitably be ‘what have you given up?’ What are you going to sacrifice; abstain from over the next forty days? Will it be chocolate, alcohol, meat, even biscuits? While Lent traditionally is the opportunity to do this and many see the discipline of self-sacrifice to be very beneficial, the question I would prefer to answer is what have you taken up? Lent does not need to be all about giving up. It needs to be a time of drawing us closer to God and into his presence.
When Jesus was led into the wilderness to encounter Satan and be tempted, we do not know what was foremost in his heart and mind, but we do know that the encounter brought him closer to his Father. It enabled him also to take time apart from the everyday things of life and re-focus his heart and mind.
Lent gives us that opportunity to spend time in God’s presence; to study his word and generally to try and be more disciplined about our lives. Many of us will join a study course. A time for fellowship with other Christians, but perhaps more importantly a time to enrich our understanding and feed our spiritual lives as we met together and study God’s word. Others will take the time for more prayer and contemplation or to read a book.
Whatever you choose to do this Lent, I would encourage you not only to give up but consider also what you will take up. To spend time encountering the presence of God whether through prayer or study more deeply God’s word or even just spending five minutes each day in quiet contemplation and thankfulness for all that you are blessed to have. In doing this I pray that God may refresh and richly bless you as you walk these forty days with him.