Can I confess something?
The idea of Lent makes me feel inadequate and lazy every year.
I approach the time knowing I want it to feel holy. I wonder what I could do, practice, give up in order to feel like I’m really experiencing it. I want to approach the foot of the cross with something worthy in my hands, something worthy in my heart.
I’ve been experimenting with spiritual disciplines this year, and I thought this would be a great way to practice Lent. The practice for this month would give me something to focus on.
I was experimenting with the Daily Examen, which is a Benedictine practice of prayer that was awesome and intense and not even that time-consuming.
Yes, I thought. I figured it out.
Except even those few minutes–well–
I couldn’t keep up.
And I approached Ash Wednesday, again, with empty hands.
But if Lent fills you with anxiety like me, can I invite you to do something different?
Don’t pick anything.
Keep your hands empty.
Show up without anything to prove your devotion.
Because the whole point of Lent is our inadequacy, our brokenness, and how much we need Jesus to step in.
Let nothingness be your discipline. Let emptiness be our intention.
Instead of labeling it lazy, label it abstaining. Every day when you’d be focusing on some discipline, lift up your empty hands and confess that you, too, are empty.
Does this seem like cheating?
I know, I know, but Lent–heck, our whole salvation–is not some game we’re supposed to play by the rules.
No, we are supposed to throw ourselves at Jesus’ feet, and trust that he has erased the rules altogether.
Over and over, I see that all our intentions, or efforts, our rules are filthy rags compared to the surpassing glory of knowing Christ.
Over and over, I see that He is enough, and that the whole point is that I am not.
I might still choose something. I know that the discipline will do my heart good. But let’s keep focused on what Lent is for: as a gift for us, not an sacrifice that proves anything. Let’s remember that the chance to draw close to Jesus is an invitation, not an obligation.