The Forty Days

I remember when my wife and I heard the good news that we were expecting our first child. It was exciting and scary all at the same time. As soon as the doctor said those words, we knew that event would be the biggest and best thing that ever happened to us. We also understood that having a child would totally transform our lives. Nothing would ever be the same again.

We were overjoyed at the prospect of having our first child.  But soon we discovered that we had a lot of work to do to prepare ourselves to receive that baby and become successful parents. We did not know what we were doing, so there were parent classes to attend and books to buy. There were baby showers, doctor visits and ultrasounds. We converted one of our bedrooms into a nursery. We traded our small sedan in for an SUV. There were myriads of other tasks and purchases, too. Preparing for the arrival of that baby was sacrificial. It was hard work, but in the end it paid off. The baby came. We were ready. We transitioned into our new lives smoothly and joyfully.

Easter is like having a baby. It is the season of new life, and for that reason, Easter is the holiest and most sacred event of the our lives. In order to fully receive and joyfully experience the new life of Easter, however, one must work very hard to prepare one’s self for it. That is where the forty days of Lent come in. Lent is our time of preparation for the transformation and new life that is about to happen to us in a few short weeks.

How do we use this season called Lent to prepare for the new life of Easter that is rapidly approaching? We prepare to receive the blessings and benefits of Easter by expending the effort to rid our lives of all the distractions which keep us from being close to God and following God’s laws.

This effort to rid ourselves of these distractions which get in the way of our relationship with God is known as fasting. We fast from everything that keeps us from drawing closer to and enjoying a new life with God. For example, may want to fast from some of our sleep, get up a little earlier and read scripture. We may want to turn off the television or social media in the evening and meditate upon God’s Word instead. We might even want to forgo eating a meal out so that we can take the money saved and donate it to a food pantry. Rather than going to a play or movie, we might go to a homeless shelter and serve meals to the hungry.

During Lent we prepare ourselves for new life with God by committing ourselves to the five Lenten disciplines. These disciplines are: 1) Self-examination, 2) penitence, 3) fasting and prayer, 4) works of charity and love, 5) meditating upon God’s Word.

If we want to be prepared for the new life of Easter, then we must get ready by ridding our lives of everything that gets in the way of these five godly disciplines. As these godly disciplines become a habit over the next forty days, we will become totally transformed. Our lives will be new and we will never be the same again.