I’ve participated in Lent for the last 3-4 years. Last year, I gave up the comfort of sleeping in a bit and woke up every morning at 4:30 to pray specifically for our children. This year, as I prayed about what I should “give up” for Lent (chocolate? coffee? technology?) I felt strongly that I wasn’t supposed to give anything up. This year, I was supposed to do something. I sat on my bed one night, Bible open, just staring, waiting for what I was supposed to do. I kinda flipped through my Bible, wondering if something would pop out. Nothing did.
And then, this verse came to my mind:
Galatians 5:22-23 : “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” (New Living Translation)
That was it! This Lent was going to be about bettering myself in ways that would not only draw me closer to God, but would affect my whole family as well.
My Lent commitment is this: I will spend each day focusing on a different fruit of the Spirit, putting each one into action. There are nine of them, so that means every nine days I will rotate back to the first one.
What is the fruit of the Spirit?
The fruit of the Holy Spirit is the result of the Holy Spirit’s presence in the life of a Christian.
And I want to do a better job at having evidence of all of these in my life. Who in this world couldn’t be better at displaying love? Joy? Peace? Patience? Goodness? Faithfulness? Gentleness? Self-control?
As humans, we are constantly in a battle, fighting our “sinful spirit” in order to allow the Spirit of God to work more freely in our lives. When was the last time you were impatient? Me? Yesterday. And that’s not what God wants for us. He wants us to live our lives overflowing with the fruit of his Spirit in us. He wants people to look at us and say, “What does she have that makes her so content?” And more importantly, I want my kids to look at me and desire the same thing.
So I’m making an 8 1/2 x 11 poster each day with the fruit I’ll be working on. Today, as the first day of Lent, I’ll be focusing on love. That means displaying love in tangible, real ways that my kids can see and feel. I will try my best to love like Jesus, which means loving those who are hard to love. It means sacrificing for the sake of others. It means loving until it hurts. And tomorrow will bring joy. And then peace. And so on.
I asked my kids this morning if any of them wanted to participate with me, and they’re all in! (It may have helped that I said we’d have a celebration at the end of the 40 days for those who participated…). Today, my examples of how they could show tangible love to others:
See dishes in the sink? Do them.
See trash on the ground? Put it in the garbage.
Hear a sibling crying? Go see if you can help.
See mom cooking in the kitchen? Go give her a hug.
See one of your siblings off playing by himself or herself? Go ask if he or she wants to play with you.
Tell someone you love them, and tell them why.
Feel a little nudge in your spirit to do something nice? Do it!
So, friends, how about you? Do you participate in Lent? If so, what is your Lent commitment this year?