February 19, 2018

Giving up or adding up: Lent

My first acquaintance with Lent brought the idea of giving up something - usually a pleasure of some kind. My thought, then and now, is that giving up something harmful is a good idea year round, but giving up pleasure for piety’s sake might make us proud or, worse, unappreciative of the good gifts God lavishes upon us!

The whole idea seems somewhat irrelevant to me (maybe irreverent!), assuming I understand the true purpose behind Lent: to draw closer to God and prepare ourselves for the joyful celebration of Easter.

If that’s the case, the question is: Is there an obstacle such as overly busyness I can give up in order to spend more time with God? Or, would I get closer to the Lord by adding a daily devotional reading, a longer or more frequent prayer time, a service to others less fortunate, a regular attendance to worship, a stronger participation in church activities, or _________________ (fill in the blank with whatever God puts on your mind, heart, and spirit)?

Since I grew up being part of Sunday School classes and, later, Bible study groups in almost every church denomination, I’ve had the privilege of studying all sorts of Bible topics, verse, and books of the Bible. These opportunities to plunge deeply into God’s Word help us to broaden our understanding of scripture and the diverse interpretations Christians find.

Studying the Bible only in bits and pieces, however, can prevent us from seeing the enormous view God has of us, the world, and our relationship with the Lord, ourselves, and one another. Therefore, my Lent challenge became the goal of reading the whole Bible, cover to cover, during the 40 days before Easter.

To do this meant putting aside my study Bibles for Lent and finding a contemporary reader’s edition with no commentary or other additions that might (okay, inevitably will!) distract me from the biblical text.

Studying, discussing, and applying the Bible throughout the year is an ongoing blessing, but for Lent, I highly recommend reading the Bible straight through as you would with any beautiful, blessed book. The difference is, the Word of God gives you the Mind of Christ and the sweeping view of God’s compelling purpose and ongoing love.

Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2017

P.S. This year I’ve chosen the CSB Giant Print Reference Bible from Holman to read for Lent. For other options, see my reviews of the many amazing translations available to us on the Bible Reviewer blog. May God bless and guide you in all you’re to do and be in Jesus’ Name.

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