Lindsey Maestas felt she was missing something every time she sinned. Although she gave her life to Jesus when she was 19, she had loved Him and failed Him ever since. Her go to sin was sex outside marriage. She jumped from relationship to relationship because she “just wanted to be happy”.
Instead, she felt the exact opposite. While sharing her story in Relevant magazine she, wrote “My heart was a torn-up piece of cloth and I kept trying to patch it with the wrong things.”
We all have issues. What is yours? If you are like me you can certainly relate to Linsey’s experience of inviting Jesus into your life yet disappointing Him in your thoughts and actions over and over.
That is where the season of Lent comes into play. For centuries Christ followers have used these forty days before Easter as a tool to become more like Christ in order to enjoy the fullness of Christ found only in that singular relationship.
Michael Hidalgo said, “Over time, our hearts and souls, when left unattended, get messy. Lent invites us to deal with the mess. Lent invites us to roll up our sleeves and sort through the debris of our lives.”
So many have tried and failed in this endeavor they quite trying. Often the problem is approach. Lent is round two of their New Year’s resolutions.
The season is not about giving up something, or even taking up something, as a self-improvement technique. Do not think (even if only in the back of your mind) of fasting in terms of a diet or improved self-will.
The point is not self-improvement even in spiritual disciplines such as prayer and Bible reading (though they may come). Drawing closer to Jesus is the goal.
Clifton Stringer explains, “The point is to feel a little discomfort, a little pain, and by that to be constantly reminded of the love of our Savior Jesus Christ, who denied himself for our salvation.” Receiving His love enables us to love Him in return and “your neighbor as yourself”.
Affections change the closer one gets to Jesus. Our hearts desire and receive a better sort of joy. “They have developed a taste for other pleasures and find happiness in holiness. This shift is key to leaving behind sinful behaviors.”
“It is better to be godly and have little than to be evil and rich” (Ps. 37:16). There is no need to feel deprived, as if God is withholding something good.
The more we acknowledge God’s love for us the greater the desire to determine what hinders deeper intimacy. Identifying and discarding barriers in our relationship becomes a yearning rather than a burden.
Such is the purpose of Lent and any acts of denial or increased devotion. Lovers of Jesus do not miss out when sin is avoided. They find the perfect patch for the torn fabric of their lives.