REFLECTING ON RELIGION: Lent a time to work on the basics of our spirituality
By REV. ERIC DOUGLAS
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.” Matthew 4:1-2
Every year many churches observe the season of Lent. It is a specific period of time leading up to the events of Holy Week and Easter and is meant as a period of self reflection and self examination. It is season of life each year that we dedicate to reviewing our relationship with God, our own spiritual condition, and how we live out our faith in the world around us. It is in this time that we take stock of our lives and see where they are out of line with the desires of God.
It might seem a little extreme in today’s world that someone would dedicate weeks to spiritual preparation for the holiday of Easter. It is just a one-day celebration after all, and there isn’t much to prepare in scattering some eggs around the yard for the kids to find. What is the big deal that we have to spend weeks getting our hearts ready for this holiday?
If you were to ask most professional baseball players how they went pro you’d probably get the same answer from most of them. They focused on their basics and practiced. I remember playing sports in high school and having a coach who would always make us focus on our conditioning and basic skills. In my younger days I always hated those days and practices, but looking back I realize now what he was doing. He was making us focus on the most fundamental aspects of our sport so that we would improve overall. The star players we just saw in the Super Bowl didn’t get there by only practicing their one-in-a-million catch or that perfect throw, they got to the biggest game of their sport by mastering the basics.
In the same way we have to spend time intentionally focusing on these basics of our spiritual life if we are to deepen our relationship with Christ. You don’t just wake up one day filled only with the love of God and and never have to work at loving your neighbors. You don’t suddenly just become the perfect disciple of Jesus. It is something that you have to work at over a lifetime. It is something that takes intentional effort and focus, which is what this season of Lent is about.
Like those athletes, we need to focus on the basics and be drawn into to perfecting the simple things. Just like them, we need to train on the most fundamental aspects of what is important to us. Take this season of Lent and prepare yourself for the coming of Christ and Easter. Prepare your heart again for the love of the cross and the glory of resurrection. Take time now and prepare the way of the Lord in your own life this season.