Tomorrow we begin the walk to the cross. Each intentional step we take is our chance to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. The invitation is always there signaling us to “come as you are.” The choice is up to us.
Today I know that Jesus has a standing invitation for me. He wrote my story, engraved my name on the cover of my life and hand wrote each chapter because I’m His cherished daughter. Jesus will do the same for you.
Jesus lived His life spreading love, inviting the marginalized into grace, and extending a standing invitation to “come as you are”. There was no pretension, putting on airs, or lack of acceptance. Everyone was welcome and Jesus modeled this in how He lived and died.
The walk to the cross provides a way for each of us to enter the story. Jesus paved the way with love, grace, hope, and an unconditional call to join Him. His story continues to teach us today as we begin the season of Lent and walk to the cross once more.
There are some of you who do not pause during these forty days of Lent because when you grew up, your family approached this time differently. There is no right or wrong. For me, it was part of my family’s tradition. And even though my understanding of Lent has evolved over the years, I am blessed by the foundation of my youth.
I came across several thoughts about Lent recently and I am changed once again in how I look at the season. Growth is ours to hold and set free when we keep our minds open to God’s whispers.
One of the components we adhered to during Lent was fasting. As a child I fretted over giving up just the right thing to please God. More often than not it became sweets. It seemed like the right thing to do.
But giving up something for the sake of saying you followed the norm takes you away from the heart work that God calls you to during these forty days.
I love how God provides multiple opportunities to grow in our relationship with Him. Over the years, I have learned that the walk to the cross is my invitation to go deeper while opening my heart to embrace the gift of Jesus’ death and promise of new life. I pray I never stop learning.Walking to the cross with Jesus this Lent is your invitation to come as you are and lean into the One who died so you may live. #TellHisStory Click To Tweet
Alisa Keeton, author of The Wellness Revelation, shares this about fasting:
We aren’t seeking more religion. We aren’t seeking to do acts for God to earn His favor. It is simply seeking Jesus and the freedom that comes from drawing close.
Emily Wierenga, author and founder of The Lulu Tree wrote on her blog,
Fasting is about emptying, hollowing — turning into a womb, a manger, a wilderness, a stone tomb, a sacred holding place for Jesus. The Man in Glory making home within us.
Making space for God in our lives is a privilege and a gift. Walking to the cross with Jesus this Lent is your invitation to come as you are and lean into the One who chose death so you may have life.
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“Fasting is not just giving up, but leaning in for God to prune and re-shape our hearts.”
Leaning in, drawing near. I think that is the spiritual discipline most needed in my life in the season I find myself.
(Hmm… that’s twice today I’ve read about pruning!)
I pray you find God’s work of pruning is healing and as you are re-shaped in His image, you find abundance. It sounds like God is trying to get your attention today.
Mary, I didn’t grow up with the tradition of Lent, so it’s interesting to read how this has played out and developed in other people’s lives. Reading about your background reminded me of the theological foundation that my childhood church provided for me. The church was far from perfect, but my faith would not be what it is today without it, and I’m grateful for that.
I am blessed that my parents provided a way for me to learn about faith. When I became a parent, I did the same for my sons. What I love is how my sons ended up teaching me more about faith than I did them as they became teenagers. Thank you for sharing a bit of your experience,
God is one big invitation. Thank you , Mary. Happy Lenting!
Happy Lenting to you too! Praying you find renewal in this season as you walk to the cross with Jesus.
Making space for Him. I love this view of Lent. Thank you. laurensparks.net
Praying you find that you are able to make space for God as you walk to the cross with Him. Blessings!
Mary, I did not grow up participating in lent, even though I started going to church when I was. I so appreciate your “Come As You Are” theme today and explaining about the journey to the cross from your perspective now verses what you grew up with. Oh, and Amen – fasting is so much more than giving up food, its a way for God to prune our hearts and for us to lean into what God has for us. I so loved this line: “The walk to the cross provides a way for each of us to enter the story. Jesus paved the way with love, grace, hope, and an unconditional call to join Him”
I always love having you here Debbie. I am learning that there are many who did not grow up participating in Lent, but I think what is more important is allowing ourselves to understand the journey Jesus endured throughout His three years of ministry and how impactful it is for us. Blessings and hugs!
Walking to the cross with Jesus. Ah..I love that. I grew up in a tradition of doing the ‘stations of the cross’ during Lent. The time was full of reverence. You’ve also reminded me of Pancake Tuesday prior to Ash Wednesday. 🙂 Our Lent traditions can change, however Jesus is to always remains the centre of it all.
I also grew up doing the stations of the cross. It was very impactful. I’m glad you reminded me that Lenten traditions can grow and change but God should always be our focus. Blessings!
“Come just as you are” indeed! Lent is such a holy time. There is something about wandering down that Lenten weary road to finally find ourselves at the empty tomb. But we can’t have Easter without first experiencing the pain of Good Friday. You and I seem to be tracking and thinking a long similar lines this week! 🙂
You said it so beautifully. There is something special about walking through the pain to better understand. I believe that is what Lent helps us to do. Thank you for being here. Headed to your place now.
I love Jesus’ “Come as you are” invitation and your reflections here, Mary. About it being a heart work – to go deeper. This really touched me today – “As He wrote my story, He engraved my name on the cover of my life and hand wrote each chapter because I’m His cherished daughter.” I often need that reminder. Love and blessings of leaning into the One who died so we may have life!
Jesus loves you so much. He sees you as the beautiful, cherished daughter you are. And the story He continues to write for you is one He loves writing. I pray you find this season to be one of sweet rest in Jesus as you walk to the cross. Love you, friend!
I love this reminder that God invites us to come as we are. I think sometimes when what we focus on during Lent is giving something up, it can become all about what we do rather than taking time to draw close to God. I love that the invitation to draw close to him always stands.
Isn’t freeing that God does not put expectations on us? He loves us as we are and as we walk with Him, He just desires that time with us. I pray my focus is on Him and I hope your own journey looks like that too.
This is such a lovely and freeing thought, Mary:
“I have learned that the walk to the cross is my invitation to go deeper while opening my heart to embrace the gift of Jesus’ death and promise of new life.”
May you savour a season of sweet fellowship with God. Interestingly, my mind was also stirred by fasting and feasting ideas this week, although I don’t come from a faith tradition where Lent practices were observed. But I was drawn to the idea a few years ago and I’m still refining how it might look for me. And to be content to simply be quiet and rest, if that’s the main objective God has in mind for me. Blessings and love. xo
Thank you for sharing these thoughts. What a blessing to hear your gentle voice throughout these words. I pray you find a sweet time of fellowship with God as we walk to the cross this season. You are a cherished daughter and you are loved immensely by the Father.
I love these thoughts about Lent, especially this: “asting is not just giving up, but leaning in for God to prune and re-shape our hearts” I am in another season of pruning too, so your words have been a blessing for me today. I am looking forward to moving through Bonnie Gray’s “Whispers of Rest,” again as she shares it from a Lenten perspective this year. May the Lord bring His Word deeper into our hearts!
It seems that we keep finding connections between what the other one is going through. A season of pruning is a good thing because we will come out so much better on the other side. I have not read “Whispers of Rest”, but it sounds like it would be a good companion to Shelly Miller’s, Rhythms of Rest. I pray you find a deepening of God’s truth as it settles deep within your heart.
I’m so glad you said this: “But giving up something for the sake of saying you followed the norm takes you away from the heart work that God calls you to during these forty days.” I did not grow up in church, but what times I was there and what I had heard from others, this seemed to be the focus of Lent: what a person decided to temporarily give up, not heart preparation. When I became a Christian and started attending a gospel-preaching church, observing Lent wasn’t practiced or taught. So I didn’t think much more about it until I became an adult. Then I encountered some people who observed it only in the “What should I give up this year?” way, just as a formality and not a spiritual discipline. Yet I came to know others who observed it with deep meaning, so my heart became more open to it. I don’t necessarily formally observe Lent, but I do like to do some heart preparation in the days leading up to Easter. Sometimes that’s reading one of the gospels or the parts of the four gospels dealing with the days leading up to the crucifixion, Jesus’ death, and then the resurrection. Often I read a devotional book made for that time of year. One of the best is Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross: Experiencing the Passion and Power of Easter compiled by Nancy Guthrie.
Thank you for sharing your experience and understanding of Lent. I don’t believe there is a right or wrong when it comes to celebrating or not celebrating Lent. What I do believe is that we will benefit when we give ourselves time to reflect and open our heart to all God has done for su through the sacrifice of His son, Jesus.
I always love knowing about new devotional books. Praying you find this season to be a chance to slow down and prepare your heart.
So very well said, Mary. It has seemed to me that “giving up something” so often seemed like a duty or outward expression versus a heart connection with the walk to the cross during Lent. I recall in school that everyone would nearly be bragging about what they would give up or what they had been told they should give up. That was not in my tradition, but it was something I was able to closely observe. For me the time was more about what He gave up for me and where my gratitude lay. Now in this season of retirement and introspective reflection I delve more deeply into intimacy with Him and what it cost Him so I could enjoy that.
It was quite the conversation with me too when I was growing up. Sharing the items we were giving up was about who was going to have it harder. The element of heart work was not present. You have stated it so well by pointing us to Jesus and what He gave up so we may live. I pray I also walk through this season diving deeper and growing closer to Jesus.
I’m with Jeanne ;). My first introduction to Lent and Ash Wednesday occured when I started teaching and one of my students (most of whom were Catholic) came to school and I said, “Oh! You’ve got some dirt on your forehead!” She graciously explained to me that she’d been to mass and that it was Ash Wednesday. This season of rebirth in the natural world is the perfect time to contemplate the rebirthing that Jesus wants to do in my life.
Such a good post, Mary. I didn’t grow up celebrating lent. It’s sort of a new thing to me. Not many in my Christian circle talk about it, but I welcome anything that draws me closer to the cross. I love some of the quotes and thoughts you’ve shared here on growth, prayer and fasting.
And shouldn’t we live walking toward Jesus and the cross? I know we emphasize it more this time of year, but I pray I focus on the cross all year long. Thank you for being here and sharing your thoughts and encouragement.
I imagine your first introduction to Lent did not necessarily make you want to learn more about it. 😉 There are certain rituals that the church uses during Lent, but I am glad you turned us toward this season of rebirth. Spring is a fitting time for us to reflect on new life and how Jesus died so we may have new life. Thanks for sharing your story of Lent.
Mary, I’m so glad to be reading this today, the morning before Ash Wednesday. I want to be more intentional abut remembering the cross and drawing near to Jesus these 40 days. I’m thinking about 1 thing to fast from, and our pastor challenged us to take on one spiritual discipline: I’m going to read the book of Mark 3 times this season, one chapter a day.
I’m looking forward to hearing more about your Lenten journey. I love your idea of digging into Mark. I pray that as you read it, you find greater insight and a deeper relationship with God. Your book would be a wonderful companion to the lenten season too. Blessings!
When I think of walking the road to the cross with Jesus…what pain and agony He endured – both physical and emotional. I think sometimes we are called to share in His suffering in order to get a wee glimpse of what He endured for us. Fasting and giving something up does help to remind us, in a tiny way, of what Jesus gave up for us. Praying that this will be a time of reflection for all of us.
I agree, Bev. I just read in a book that in order for us to understand our pain, we need to sit in our pain. That is not something I am keen on doing, but when I allow myself to feel and recognize the challenge, God has the space to teach me more about His love, grace and strength. I will join you in prayer that we find the time to lean in and recognize all God has done for us.
Yes, “making space for God.” That is such a helpful way to view our relationship to everything. I know that I am capable of making an idol out of any thing, and this stance encourages a careful sifting of my entitlement, my priorities, and my motivation.
Blessings to you, Mary.
You do such a great job with outdoor images in your posts. You inspire me.
I appreciate your thoughts because it sounds like I got across what I was trying to convey. I am of the thought that in order for us to grow deeper with God, I need to continually make space for more learning to take place. It is what God continues to teach me especially as we come across these liturgical seasons such as Advent and Lent.
Thank you for your kind words about my photos. I hope I can grow my expertise in this area because it brings me great joy.
Mary, Lent has always been a bit of a mystery to me. But, as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to better understand it. As I girl, I too, gave up something—usually sweets. 🙂 Now, that I have a better understanding, I can approach how I honor Lent.
I love what you said here:
“I have learned that the walk to the cross is my invitation to go deeper while opening my heart to embrace the gift of Jesus’ death and promise of new life. I pray I never stop learning.”
I never want to stop learning and understanding either. Thanks for sharing this perspective.
It is my understanding that more traditional churches/denominations tend to recognize Lent. What I love is that I grew up with a foundation of what Lent is about, but over the years (especially the last few) God has taught me so much more. Traditions and rituals are good, but if they stifle us from growing our relationship with God, then they have not served their purpose. I pray you continue to learn as you take your own walk to the cross.