Last year, I did something out of the ordinary for an evangelical girl. I observed Lent. Not in a traditional way - no ashes, no special service at church or fasting. But for the first time in my life, I did something special for Lent. I chose a Bible study God had been speaking to me about for a while, and I spent the weeks before Easter working through Kris Kamealy's Holey, Wholly, Holy.
It was the hardest season I'd been through in years. I had no idea what lay before me. Working through that study, laying my soul bare before God, really focusing on Christ's sacrifice and the enormity of my own sin - it crushed me. Morning after morning, this study left me on my knees, and sometimes on my face, before God. I asked Him to reveal my sin, and He answered, loud and clear. It wasn't just the obvious sins. He dug deep into my soul, showing me the sin I glossed over, trying to hide and justify.
Those forty days changed me.
Looking back at my journal from Lent last year, I'm still shocked by the aching, weeping wounds God revealed. Things hidden, even from myself, were brought to the surface. Though painful at first, I now see the healing that began through that brokenness. I'm a different person now than I was last spring. Still broken in so many ways, but a little more whole, my brokenness mended by a God of limitless grace.
Sometimes we need to ask God to reveal our sin. It's hard. We want to hide it - after all, His grace covers our sin. But when we realize how big our sin is, we realize how big our need for Christ is. We see how lost we really are, how hopeless our life becomes without Jesus. In the end, through the pain, we're drawn closer to Him. And we realize just how much the precious gift of Easter means.
This year has already been hard. A job loss, uncertainty and fear, a new job, a new schedule - a lot has changed in just a few weeks. At the end of 2014, I wrestled with my word for this year, debating for weeks between refine and dwell. I chose dwell, but God has shown me that the two are really intertwined - when I dwell with Him, He refines me, and when I'm being refined, I have to dwell with Him to find strength.
That's really what Lent is about - dwelling on Christ, on His sacrifice, and letting Him refine us.
I'm observing Lent again this year. I've downloaded Ann Voskamp's Trail to the Tree and my friend Kirsten Oliphant's devotional Consider the Cross. I'm going through Holey, Wholly, Holy again, too. I know a little of what lies ahead. I know that God isn't done refining me, that He will reveal more sin and fear. But I know it will make me stronger, because God meets me in my weakness and give me His own strength.
If you haven't found a study for Lent, click over to Amazon and pick one up. Join me in this journey to Easter?