Journey to the Cross
Historically, Lent has been a time dedicated to prayer, fasting and almsgiving. During the season of Lent, Christians are encouraged to examine their lives to determine any areas where they need improvement. While this Lenten focus is commendable, I think these are spiritual practices that should be encouraged at all times.
That being said, I am reminded that Jesus spent forty days of prayer and fasting in the wilderness before he began his earthly ministry. We are invited to use these forty days of Lent to identify and confess our sins and begin the process of repentance, first in our hearts and then in our actions. How much of your prayer time do you typically spend in confession? Now might be a good time to focus on your most persistent sins in order to bring about true repentance.
Consider what are your besetting sins—the ones you persist in committing in spite of your clear understanding that they are not beneficial or appropriate. Do you regularly lose your temper with a co-worker, even when you know you have no control over his or her behavior? Do you consistently make poor food choices, even when you know such choices are negatively impacting your health? Are you constantly envious or jealous of others, even when you know that you have enough and are enough?
Perhaps your persistent sin is not any particular bad actions on your part, but rather it is your failure to do good when the opportunity arises. Do you routinely ignore the needs of the poor? Do you discount the value of the elderly, of people with handicapping conditions, or those of another race or nationality or religion or language group? Do you put your own desires before others?
Whatever your recurrent sins, and we all have them, think about what it would take to bring about a radical transformation in your life by setting aside, quitting, or simply letting go of the sins you have a history of committing. Perhaps you know you are doing something wrong, but you are not yet ready to give it up. I invite you to consider praying for the desire to repent.
As we remember Jesus’ journey to the cross, to suffer and die for our sins, I challenge you to consider this Lent as your own personal journey to repentance. Consider that each day might take a little closer to living a Christ-like life. You may not acquire the fruit of the spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control) in an instant, but you can take incremental steps toward that goal when you commit to the journey.