The Importance of Preparation – Thoughts About Lent

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There is no mountain under that snow. That's just how much snow the plow pushed to the edge of the parking lot.

There is no mountain under that snow. That’s just how much snow the plow pushed to the edge of the parking lot.

This week millions of people all over the world will begin the observance of Lent.  Of course, first we’ll stuff ourselves with fried dough and powdered sugar, but then the 40 days of preparation begin.

If you don’t already know, Lent is, basically, just a reference to the 40 days leading up to Holy Week.  It is meant to be a time of prayer and fasting and preparing the heart for the most sacred celebration of the Christian year – the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Since my personal focus lately has been so much on gardening and wildlife and caring for the earth I can’t help but constantly tie everything back to that.

I am one of the weird ones. I like winter.  I love the cold and the snow and the short, dark days.  Not because I want to be freezing and stuck in my house all the time, but because nothing in the world feels more safe and snug and wonderful to me than wearing my softest, fuzziest clothes and being in the shelter of my warm little house with golden lamplight glowing while the sparkling snow falls and the wind howls.  I love how excited my children get when we take them sledding or ice skating at the local park. I love that giant fuzzy hoodies cover more chub than shorts and tank tops.  OK – so maybe driving in it is awful and, yes, at 35 degrees below zero, I was complaining about the air hurting my face, too but, overall, I like winter very much.

And I’m over it.

This winter has, literally, been the harshest of my whole life. We have broken all sorts of weather records including the snow record and the record cold temperature.  At one point my husband asked his routine morning question, “Do you know what the weather is supposed to be like today?”  I snapped a little and told him, “at this point you should probably just assume that every day for the rest of eternity we’re going to get another foot of snow and it’s going to be really really cold.”

But even as I type this and the snow falls, yet again, outside my window I know that’s not true.  I know that spring is coming.  I doubt this year will be like last – when I was outdoors with a spade in March, wondering if I could get away with putting my peas in a little early.  But even if it’s still snowing in May (as it’s occasionally been known to do around here), the snow will stop.  The ground will thaw.  The trees will bud and the flowers will bloom and, before we realize what has happened we will be enjoying a sunny day at the lake.

Image via freedigitalphotos.net

Image via freedigitalphotos.net

Knowing that, wise gardeners all over the state are beginning to start their seedlings and take stock of their tools and draw out grids of just where their plants will go when the time is right.  We prepare because, despite all appearances to the contrary, we know that winter will not last forever.  If we don’t prepare then we are frustrated when the ground thaws. The stores are out of what we need or the tools we require are rusty when we reach for them or we buy too few or too many seedlings and end up with wasted money or wasted space.

But even if you make no preparations, spring will come.  The sun will shine over your home once more. The rain will fall and the flowers will grow.  Spring comes for everybody, but not everybody makes the most of spring.

Just as this is the time of year when gardeners begin to prepare themselves for the special time of spring, which brings new life, so Lent is the time when we should prepare our hearts for the special time of the resurrection and new life in Christ.  I think that can mean different things for different people. My experience of faith may not resemble yours in many ways but, if you are a follower of Christ the one experience that we share – the crucial thing that binds us – is that we are restored from our own brokenness through Jesus’ death and through his victory over death.  Jesus overcame death that we may have life; truly abundant, joyful, wonder-filled life!

IMG_2059In the coming 6 weeks we have time to prepare our hearts. We can pray and meditate, study the scriptures, serve the needy, fast or “give up” something that we feel is in the way of our spiritual growth.  If we prepare now, then when the days of observance and celebration come, we will be fully ready to see, with open eyes, the truth of the miracle of life that has been given to us.  If we use this time wisely, that time will be even more wondrous to us.

What about those who don’t prepare?  Well, just like spring comes for everyone, God’s love and His Good gifts are not limited to those who follow a certain set of observances.  Jesus’ death and resurrection was for all people of all places and all times.  Not most people or people like me or people of a certain class or race or culture.  All. Every. Each, without exception.

The question is, will you make the most of it?

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

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If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve! 

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13 responses »

  1. I’ve heard the word Lent every year of my life and never really knew what it was. Raised in the Church of Christ, we didn’t participate, so to me giving something up for Lent always seemed odd. Thanks for explaining it!

    • Isn’t it funny how something can be in our culture and yet not a part of our lives at all. I was the same way for a long time about both “Lent” and “Advent.” I knew they were church words related to Christmas and Easter but that’s where it stopped for me.

  2. I love this idea of preparedness, because regardless of if we are ready- life will happen. We can choose to be ready for it or let it happen to us and face the consequences. Sadly I usually do the latter. But I’m trying to be better. {applying this to the Lent season} I liken it to when we prepare to go to worship. If I prepare my heart in advance I will be more willing to be open to God moving, if I rush and allow myself to be distracted I walk away with as much as I came with.

    • “If I rush….” Ugh. I feel like Sunday mornings are always such chaos. It’s something my family REALLY needs to work on because I agree with you 100%.

  3. I completely agree with you on preparation. Spiritual preparation is not my strong point. As I get older, I am finding I may need it more than I think. It’s something that’s always in the back of my mind but I never seem to take action on.

  4. I love how you tied it all together! Life will happen and being prepared for what ever it is, garden or God, you made your point. 🙂

    • I think that’s a great thing! Children often get told things like, “we are giving up meat for Lent because Jesus died on the cross for you.” How are they supposed to make any sense of the logic behind that. Helping them understand why we have some of the seemingly strange observances we do is huge!

  5. It’s actually been such a strange winter. I’m in SE Idaho, and we normally get a LOT of snow, and that’s what we’re used to. This year, we’ve gotten almost no snow. It’s definitely been very strange.
    I love the idea of preparing our hearts. I grew up in a church where Lent was a really big deal, but when I was about 4th grade we moved to a different church that I don’t remember putting much of any emphasis on it, and I really didn’t think much about it again until recently. Now that I have kids, especially, I want to teach them about the importance of preparing our hearts, not just at Lent but throughout the year. I want to teach them to keep the oil in their lamps, to be prepared to hear their bridegroom calling them.

    • What a beautiful compliment! Thank you. I am with you on winter… but I saw a few little patches of grass in my yard today. We’re making progress! 😀

  6. I grew up in the Catholic church and since I left I feel like Lent sneaks up on me every year. As much as I would like to do something for Lent, I rarely think about it until it starts. I love the principle behind it, to get closer to God. I did not prepare at all, so, I’m not sure if I want to do it this year, but I have already marked my calendar for next year so I can actually be prepared. Thanks for linking up with Turn it Up Tuesdays.

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