Lent has traditionally been a time to prepare for Easter by entering into a time of reflection and sacrifice. For forty days, believers choose to forgo a particular comfort or pleasure, like coffee or chocolate. This is a way of denying self so that we can reflect on the sacrifice that Christ made for us on the cross.
For many years now, I have approached Lent with a flexible attitude. Instead of giving up something, I have often felt it right to add a discipline to my life. In 1976 I decided to read through the New Testament for the first time as my Lenten practice. I don’t think it was a coincidence that shortly after Easter when I was faced with a crisis, I naturally turned to the Lord and committed my life to Him. That Lent has had a lasting impact in my heart and my life.
And yet, there is an even better way to observe Lent.
The apostle Paul urges us to “reckon ourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ.” (Romans 6:11)
The sacrifices we make at Lent demonstrate the first part of Paul’s exhortation but let’s not forget about the rest.
How transformational would it be if we could not only recognize those areas and replace them intentionally with the resurrection life that God gives us and empowers us to live?
What are some of the inward attitudes, motivations, and fears that God is wanting us to bring to death on the cross? What if instead of giving up some outward practice, like eating chocolate or forgoing social media, we took some time every day to look inside and see what God would have us call to death? What if we then look for the good that God wants to bring to life in us and make the decision to choose a new way?
That is the heart of inner healing. Inner healing is not a self-help program; it’s a reckoning-as-dead process, followed by resurrection life in Christ.
John Sandford of Elijah House ministries said this:
“Inner healing isn’t fixing the self that is broken in order to restore it to its former functioning; it is bringing self to death on the cross so we can be resurrected into new life in Christ so the power of our flesh can no longer rule us.”
We see the sin within and consciously choose to bring it to the foot of the cross. We leave it there and embrace life on the resurrection side of the cross. This is a divine exchange worth making. This type of healing changes our relationship with ourselves, God, and the people around us.
That is the goal of our Lenten devotional series. Our writers have looked within to see what needs to be put to death and then looked to God to see what He wants to bring to life. As we share the insights He gives us, our prayer is that this Lent, you will also make the divine exchanges that have lasting value.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. — Romans 12:2