Taking On for Lent

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that He will forgive your sins. (Acts 3:19)

Repentance in Scripture is the act of turning from sin and turning towards Christ. Giving up what keeps us from relationship with God, and moving towards that which helps us know Him more. In the season of Lent, repentance often turns tangible as we give up something for the forty days of Lent in order to reorient our lives towards Christ.

I’ve done this in a number of ways throughout my life, as I suspect many of you reading have as well. I’ve given up chocolate, I’ve given up meat, and I’ve given up desserts. Once, while in university, I tried to give up homework, but my professors didn’t seem to appreciate my spiritual quest. But most of the time, the focus was simply on the giving up.

I gave up desserts in part to participate in the abstinence of Lent, but also because I wanted to lose five pounds. I gave up meat because I had been reading about the historical significance of this practice and wanted to participate in that history.

I’ve given up things, but I’ve rarely taken the next step and used that giving to move me towards Christ. That second step takes intentionality. You don’t move toward God simply by skipping dessert for forty days. Instead, there needs to be a replacement for whatever it is you’re giving up for Lent. In place of dessert, there needs to be some other movement that gets you to step two.

So, this year, I want to do something different. I want to focus on the second step of repentance, the turning toward God. Rather than giving something up tangibly, I want to take something on – something that moves me toward Christ.

Rather than giving something up tangibly, I want to take something on - something that moves me toward Christ. Click To Tweet

This could be a number of different things. You could take on gratitude, and write down one thing you’re thankful for each day. You could take on kindness, and do at least one intentional good deed each day. You could take on hospitality, and commit to hosting dinners or inviting co-workers out to lunch each week. And, you see, each of these things to take on involves an inherent giving up.

To take on gratitude means to give up selfishness or thoughtlessness or taking life for granted. To take on kindness means giving up self-centeredness. To take on hospitality means giving up insulation. And to take on gratitude or kindness or hospitality is to take an intentional step toward Christ, because they are attributes that Jesus himself displayed in his own life.

For this year, during Lent, I’ve decided to take up encouragement. I like to think of myself as an encouraging person, but I find I voice those encouragements far less than I’d like (which, I suppose, doesn’t make me very encouraging in the first place…).

I once had a practice of writing encouraging notes and sending them in the mail each week, and I’ve moved away from it – so this year, I’m taking it back on. I want to notice those around me and let them know the beauty and the goodness I see in them, so I’ll write it down and let them know.

And in taking on encouragement, I’m giving up my less-than-constructive habit of keeping my thoughts to myself.

What will you take on for Lent this year? How can you intentionally move toward Christ?