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Let God Change You During LentWhitney Hopler

Live It Editor

Each year, Easter's approach gets people excited about celebrating Christ's resurrection and all that it means in their lives. But His resurrection wouldn't mean nearly as much without His sacrifice on the cross, and His work in people's lives today always involves growth that's often uncomfortable yet necessary to make a true difference worth celebrating.

It might be tempting to skip Lent - the traditional 40-day period of reflection from Ash Wednesday through Easter that commemorates Christ's own time of hardship and reflection in the desert. But doing so would deprive you of many opportunities to invite God to transform your life. If you take advantage of those opportunities, you'll have deeper and richer reasons to celebrate when Easter arrives.

Here are some activities that can enrich your spirit during Lent:

 

  • Ask God to help you focus on the true reason for Easter, (after all, it wasn't the Easter bunny who rose from the dead). Pray for an increased awareness of the Holy Spirit in your life.

     

  • Confess whatever thoughts or actions are hindering your intimacy with God, and ask Him to forgive you and send you the grace you need to live a better life.

     

  • Thank God for all the resources He has given you - time, money, energy, talents, skills, etc. Then think and pray about how you can best use those resources to serve God. Commit to start doing so more than you have in the past, and write a plan of some specific ways to get started.

     

  • Deny yourself something you enjoy to divert your attention to others and grow in maturity. Fast for one meal or one day, then donate the money you would have spent on the food to a food pantry or soup kitchen. Skip your favorite television show and use the time you would have spent watching it to pray or do a favor for someone in need.

     

  • Forgive someone. The Holy Spirit will enable you to do so if you rely on God's power. Write the person a letter, call, e-mail, or visit in person to offer your forgiveness.

     

  • Keep a daily journal to record current ways God is working in your life.

     

  • Consider the discrimination that Christ suffered on earth, and ask God to show you the ways you discriminate against people who are different from you. Take some time to get to know someone who's different (perhaps someone from a different generation, culture, or economic status), and try to build a genuine friendship.

     

  • Become an advocate for justice. Contact your elected representatives in government and corporate executives to express your convictions on a topic that's important to you.

     

  • Join some friends or family members to act out Bible passages that describe the events of Jesus' last week on earth. Then talk together about what those passages mean to you.

     

  • Simplify your life to care more responsibly for God's creation. Keep a record of what you purchase, then study it to determine why you bought what you did and how you can scale back to what you truly need. Recycle more, use less water and electricity, and eat less processed food.

     

  • Serve your community. Choose one or several projects. Possibilities include helping elderly people with home repairs, reading books to children, and visiting people in your local hospital.

     

  • Eat a Passover Seder meal like the one Jesus ate with His disciples before He died. Use the experience to worship Him.

Adapted from Who's Risen from the Dead, Anyway?: An Expandable Collection of Resources for Lent & Easter by various authors, copyright 2002 by Alternatives for Simple Living, Sioux City, Ia., www.SimpleLiving.org, 1-800-821-6153.

Alternatives for Simple Living was founded in 1973 to equip people of faith to challenge consumerism, live justly, and celebrate responsibly.

Why is it important to you to observe Lent rather than just go straight to celebrating Easter? What are some of the most meaningful ways you observe Lent? How does God help you grow as a person through your Lenten activities? You can discuss this topic in Crosswalk's forums by clicking on the link below.

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