Perhaps it's unusual, but my answer to the infamous "favorite holiday question" has always been Easter. It's certainly not the answer you hear from most, Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving. But there's something about this season we find ourselves quickly approaching. Something different, somber even. Something holy.
I find it only fitting that when most of us think "Easter" we think bright colors, candy-filled plastic eggs, and smiling kids. Easter brings joy. I mean, Jesus dying for our sins and overcoming the grave brings ridiculous joy.
Let's not discredit all the fun this season has in store, like all the activities our churches and communities are brewing up or standing in line at the mall for an hour so our screaming toddlers can take a photo with a teenager dressed up as a life-sized rabbit. (I don't have my own screaming toddler, but I can imagine that experience is enough to suck the joy out of anyone.)
But let's not stop there.
This Lenten Season we are embarking on is a chance for us to more or less straighten up. Are our eyes on things unseen, or are we being blinded by the abundance of empty things desperate for our attention here below? Are we able to say without an ounce of hesitation that Jesus is our heart's desire? Are we ready to lay aside an activity, food, type of music, video game, etc., for the next 40 days to lean in a little closer to Christ?
As I was processing these things, I was a little taken back. Discouraged, maybe. With the hustle of life, I haven't thought through these difficult questions nearly enough lately. As I prayed for clarity over what it is I needed to give up this Lenten Season, allowing Jesus to take center stage of my heart, I found a great unwillingness in my heart, right where Jesus should be. I couldn't give that up. I do that every day. It's part of my routine.
Friends, when we are more afraid of losing 40 days of a specific activity, food, routine, etc., than we are of losing sight of our Lord and Savior...
All my flesh focused on while entering this season is what I would be "giving up", not the incredible growth and strength Jesus is eagerly waiting to pour out upon me. And the truth is, all he is waiting for is me to come and get it, so to speak. Jesus desires for us to live an "abundant life" as taught in John 10:10, "The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy; I come that they may have life, and have it abundantly." (New American Standard Bible). We must be cautious to not mix up these roles. This season isn't about being robbed all the good in your life, but it's about encountering all the good that God is. Jesus isn't destructive, he's restorative. And restoration comes when we are willing to lay down whatever it takes to encounter his presence. And that, my friends, is the heart of this journey we are embarking on.
So my question is simple really. It's not easy, and no one said it would be. But, are you willing? Are you willing to refocus these next few weeks? Jesus isn't looking for religious perfection and ritual flawlessness. But He is looking for you. Wholeheartedly. Unafraid of letting go of this world to cling a little harder to its very Creator. Let that be our cry this Lenten Season. Let us be willing. Eager, just as Jesus. This is a joyful time. Let's let it be a fruitful time, as well. -Taylor