Lent and I

My husband always {somewhat} jokingly prides himself on “converting” me to the Pentecostal church. I traded Southern Baptist and their neat hymns and sacred services and just-as-sacred fried chicken for raised hands and long worship songs and got to keep my sacred fried chicken. We would joke sometimes about how repetitive and “old school” Baptists can be. Thinking you do everything the perfect way makes you immature like that.

Last Sunday I had kind of a small, secret meltdown. I was back home for the weekend for my Mom’s birthday. I had dropped my husband off at our old Pentecostal church, and I was driving down the country roads to my old Southern Baptist church so I could spend more time with my mom. I was bitter towards God, and I wasn’t afraid to let Him know it. We’re going on three years of infertility….and although I have many more peaceful days than sad ones, this particular day was not one of the peaceful sorts.

I walked into church five minutes late, just late enough to take my seat before the first hymn. I chuckled just a little bit as I opened the hymnal to an old familiar tune. Why do I even bother opening the book? After almost 18 years of singing them I probably knew them all by heart anyways. But in the middle of that first hymn, I knew. I knew the Lord was present in that place. The sacred singing of words proclaiming His faithfulness and mercy…..these words  sung my fervent hearts ushered in the presence of the Lord.

And I knew that I was being silly and immature for ever mocking someone who prefers The Old Rugged Cross to Bethel or Hillsong.

I suppose this was the set-up for Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. Because Lent? I didn’t even really know what that was. All I did know was that it was different than anything I knew. And something that is so foreign to both the Pentecostal and Baptists denominations is even more ridiculous than a book of hymns. Oh yes, this heart of mine has lots of growing to do and needs lots of grace…..grace upon grace.

Which is why I was so very thankful yesterday after reading this post from the She Reads Truth team. In a matter of minutes, I knew this was what my heart needed. A time to pause. A time to come face to face with my own sin and humanity and recall all that the Lord has done for me. A time of refreshing and renewal.

So this year, I’m doing something new and recognizing Lent. I fully understand and am aware that the traditions associated with Lent are not what saves me or cleanses me of sin. But I also recognize that sometimes physical representations of spiritual truths can help to bind and seal these truths in my heart.  Those old hymns that tell of God’s glory and faithfulness can usher in the Lord’s presence just as good as raised hands and new songs. And whether you choose to recognize Lent or if you just decide to pause for a few hours, I think it’s important for us to understand just how black our sin is and just how great His redemption is. I also think it would be highly appropriate and redeeming to close with one of my most favorite hymns.

See? I’m learning y’all. Grace grace grace……

I hear the Savior say,
“Thy strength indeed is small;
Child of weakness, watch and pray,
Find in Me thine all in all.”

Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

For nothing good have I
Whereby Thy grace to claim,
I’ll wash my garments white
In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.

And now complete in Him
My robe His righteousness,
Close sheltered ’neath His side,
I am divinely blest.

Lord, now indeed I find
Thy power and Thine alone,
Can change the leper’s spots
And melt the heart of stone.

When from my dying bed
My ransomed soul shall rise,
“Jesus died my soul to save,”
Shall rend the vaulted skies.

And when before the throne
I stand in Him complete,
I’ll lay my trophies down
All down at Jesus’ feet.

“Jesus Paid it All” by Elvina M. Hall

Have you ever participated in Lent? What has your experience been?

 

4 Comments

  1. Nina B.

    Your open inspires me. Your willingness to grow pushes me toward Jesus. Thanks, friend. I grew up in a denomination where Lent was a must do and am no longer in that denomination. But I still agree with that post from She Reads Truth. It is the heart behind why we do things. Growing up, many times (but not all) because I didn’t understand or really have a choice (lol), it was done out of obligation and then a sense of pride: look what I gave up for forty days. Ugh. I feel ugly just writing that.

    • Sarah Casterline

      Nina, your comment brought me so much joy.
      Sadly, I understand what you mean. Our church used to do a 21-day fast at the beginning of the year and I used to approach it with the same attitude. Ugh. :/

  2. Mary Piasecki

    I never did anything with Lent. I grew up non-denominational and it just wasn’t something we did. If we brought it up I would give up candy for a day or two. Never more. I love how open you are about being upset with God. It is something people don’t like talking about but a lot of us experience.

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