Lent . . . I’ve recently found that it springs up on me in such a way that I am not prepared for it—like this year. All of a sudden I am reading a devotional to a classroom of students about Ash Wednesday, and I realize, It’s Lent! Or like last year, I find out two days into the season that people have started to “give up” something and I missed the boat. How can I really celebrate Lent if I’m two days late? is my justification to my absent-mindedness. What kind of excuse is not being ready, not being on time, when God spent since the creation of the earth on a plan to save me and is still working it out? In recent years, those are the big thoughts that go through my head and bog me down at the beginning of Lent.
I’ve had years of omitting something. Chocolate one year, coffee another. I could re-do one of those. . .but really, I have enough to be crabby about. Why add to it? And will my lack of coffee turn into prayer and remembrance or just a few more extra minutes to accomplish a few more things? Will not eating a morsel cause me to reflect on His grace or cause me to think up some great weight-loss excuse for it all? I don’t mean to sound crass: I realize the harsh reality of lent for me still. I have a lot to learn. Still. A LOT!
But thanks to social media, and a status of someone I call my friend, God roped me into this season of lent anyway. A friend declared her intent for lent was 40 days of gratitude. She would post something each day that she was thankful for. Easy enough. And I sit back and think, Man, why hadn’t I thought of that? And then another friend says she is coping that idea and starts posting her 40 days of gratitude. And then my pig-headed, stubborn, sinful nature steps in and says, There’s no way I am doing that now.
But that night, when I am praying with my two oldest kids, I ask them to pray for one extra thing they are thankful for. I’m not really copying the idea, right? And I am not posting it as a status every day. It is totally different, I justify. Easy enough, my kids come up with an extra prayer request. An extra sentence of praise. One more thought of gratitude.
And here is what God does without my input. On the first night, I sit back and as a proud mom, I thank God for kids who are thankful. But on all the nights to come, He beckons me to talk to Him. I don’t even realize the invitation—I talk to God only because of the “cute” one-liners that my kids are saying and praying.
Princess A: Thank you that you made me a princess.
Dear God, Thank you for showing my daughter so much love and may she continue to know that she is and always will be a daughter of the true King.
E: Thank you for African food.
Dear God, Thank you for a small taste of what all of Your creation is like. Thank you for Your variety and spice, and help us to understand You are a big God to this big world.
Princess A: Thank you that I can dance.
Dear God, Thank you for bodies that move and create. Thank you that You made us creative creatures. Thank you that our creativity brings glory to You.
E: Thank you for the birds and bugs.
Dear God, Thank you for your creation. Thank you for the small critters we barely get to meet. Thank you for all that is soaring above us, and that You care so much to take care of them all.
Each night I find myself talking to God just a little bit more. I am thanking God for the items they are thankful for—praising God for the resources to allow them to go to swimming lessons or out to a fast-food restaurant, acknowledging God for his forgiveness so we could get through that lying stage without washing any mouths with soap, appreciating the fact that we can make a “home” for the snails that plague our gardens, being grateful that we sang all of the favourite songs in church again.
Lent is a time to reflect on our need for a Saviour, as we look forward to celebrating our Lord’s death and resurrection. My Saviour asked me to spend a little more time with him this year. And because of the everyday prayers of thanks from my children, I’ve been spending a few more minutes in gratitude for all my Saviour has done for them. . .and me.