The church year has turned again, and we have entered into the season of Lent.
For many people, this conjures the idea of fish on Fridays, and the question of what should I perhaps give up for Lent? In fact, it is such a cliché that quite often, we make fun of the very idea.
But the reality is that Lent does serve a purpose in the life of the church. It is a time of reorientation for the believer as we prepare for the celebration of the joy of Easter.
What do I mean by reorientation? A simple analogy is this: If you go to shoot at a target with a rifle, you depend on your gun’s sights to make sure you hit the target. Over time and through wear and tear and mischance, those sights can get knocked a little bit out of alignment.
When the sights are misaligned, you will no longer be able to hit your target. The answer of how to correct this problem is straightforward. You need to adjust your sights so they once again help you to line up the target correctly.
In our Christian life, we have a target as well. You might talk of reaching glory, being Christ-like, finishing the race. But whatever you call it, for the Christian, it comes down to being the person God wants us to be and living the life God calls us to live. That is our purpose and our aim.
But, just like a rifle, our lives, through the challenges we face and the mistakes we make, sometimes get misaligned and we lose sight of our goal. Lent is a time for each believer to make the effort to realign their life and make sure they are focused on God.
This can happen in a lot of different ways. One of them is through a practice of self denial. Remember, fish on Friday was not to eat more fish, but to give up the meat you might otherwise eat. Another option is to turn it around and make it positive. Not what will I give up, but rather, what special thing will I do to honor God in my life, in this season of Lent? Perhaps you can consider volunteering to help those in need, or a commitment to extra Bible study, or prayer.
Whatever form it takes I encourage you to use this season of Lent as a time to reorient your life and make sure your focus is on God.
Lent is a season that helps us to stay focused so that at the end of our days, we may echo the words of the Apostle Paul. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”