The season of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday which is forty days before Easter (not counting Sundays). The “ash” in Ash Wednesday comes from the use of ashes as a symbol of repentance, as in “dressing in sack-cloth and sitting in ashes.” Ashes are, of course, what is left when the fire goes out. Fire is the primary symbol of the Holy Spirit. So, ashes are often used as a symbol of what we have left when we let our burning desire to obey God flame out. When I put my will ahead of God I must repent, turn around, and go the other way: God’s way!
Many of us practice giving something up for Lent: this is called fasting (fasting is not just about food). The main idea behind Christian fasting is to remind ourselves that there is only one person, place, or thing that we cannot do without – God! So, if you are thinking about giving something up for Lent, think, “What can’t I do without?” “What do I have to have every day or every week?” It is especially helpful to think of things that do not help you to be a better disciple of Jesus. For example: “Am I more likely to do without my coffee in the morning or skip my Bible reading?” I think we all know which one of those ought to be the higher priority.
There are many ways to prepare our hearts and minds during this season of Lent but the one indispensable is prayer. Before we decide what we are going to do we each need to spend some time talking to the Boss about what we should do. Be prepared for an unexpected answer. I can easily imagine God saying: “I like this. I like you and I talking together. I want more of this this!”