Lent Part 2: Invitation to Die to Self

Seeds I Planted As A Lenten Reminder

“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed.  But if it dies, it produces many seeds.  The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”            John 12:23-25

Today I am a seed. 

On this Ash Wednesday, this first day of Lent, I choose to be a seed that dies to self so that God can produce His bountiful fruit in my life.  Although Jesus invites us to follow in His footsteps every day, Lent is a season for us to pay particular attention to this invitation.

The term Lent comes from the Anglo-Saxon word for “Spring,” and refers to a season of the year when there is growth and change.  In church history, dating all the way back to the Early Church, Lent was celebrated as the season leading up to Easter and was used as a time for fasting, prayer, and dying to self so that God could produce new fruit. (See below for more background on Lent.)

Today, I want God to do whatever it takes to produce His good fruit in me.  That means I’ve got to die.  My first reaction to that thought is, “Ouch!”  But my next reaction is, “Come, Lord Jesus.  Have your way in me.”   

I am longing for more of God, and I know that to have more of Him there’s got to be less of me.  So rather than waiting for Him to strip away the props and distractions in my life, I choose to willingly and intentionally surrender more fully to Him during the coming 40 days of Lent.

As I begin this journey with Him, I sense His invitation to let go of a particular distraction in my life – the television.  (Once again I say, “OUCH!”) 

Over the years, I’ve settled into the habit of winding down at the end of the day by watching a couple hours of TV.  I’ve become hooked on a number of shows that provide me with an enjoyable distraction so that I can forget about the cares of the day.  But when I keep myself distracted, I’m unable to hear His still, small voice inviting me to follow. 

Before He can produce His good fruit in me, I need to die to myself.  And for this season, I sense Him specifically inviting me to surrender my TV-watching habit so that I can make more space for God.  I don’t know yet exactly what fruit He wants to produce in me – I just know that I want to say “yes” to His invitation to die to me so that I can be more alive in Him. 

To give me a daily reminder of this death-leading-to-life process, this week I planted some seeds in a planter box.  After just five days, the seeds have already germinated and begun to sprout.  As I look each day for new signs of life, I am reminded of what God is doing deep within me, too.  Just as surely as these seeds will eventually bloom into beautiful Zinnias and Sunflowers, I know the seed of my life – as it dies – will eventually blossom into God’s bountiful fruit within me.

Today, you are also a seed.  And Jesus is inviting you to die so that you can live.  He’s inviting you to allow the hard shell of your seed exterior to be cracked open so that He can bring new life and multiply His good work in you. 

Once again, I’d like to invite you to join me on this Lenten journey with Jesus.  I encourage you to take some time today to get away from any distractions.  Ask God what kinds of changes He may want you to make during this season.  Ask Him to show you what He may be inviting you to surrender.  Remember that He loves you more than you can possibly imagine and that anything He asks of you is for the purpose of doing something beautiful in your life.

Then, please pass this blog on to any friends you think might consider joining this journey.   And take a few moments and post your comments below so that we can keep the discussion going and share with one another what God is saying and doing in our lives.

Some Additional Background On Lent:

Lent began in the Early Church as a time to prepare new Christians for baptism on Easter.  By the middle of the 4th Century, a 40-day period of preparation had been established.  Later on, Lent developed into a time for all Christians to prepare for Easter.  Lent became a time of self-discipline and harsh self-examination, and by the Middle Ages, Lent had become so strict that many began to dread its coming.

Over time, the harsh demands and strict expectations have softened, and in many Christian traditions it is celebrated now more as a time of growth and change.  Many people still seek to give up some of their favorite foods, habits, or distractions in order to focus more closely on God and sharing His love with the world.

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, with many churches celebrating a special Ash Wednesday service and using ashes dipped in oil to make the sign of the cross on worshippers’ foreheads.  Both in the Bible and throughout church history, ashes have been used as a symbol of repentance and renewal.

Traditionally, Lent is celebrated on Monday-Saturday, with Sundays being considered a “mini-Easter.”  On Sundays, the intensity of fasting or other spiritual practices is often lessened.

1 Comment

  1. Day One – Ash Wednesday. Jogwalked one mile. Read through 1 Corinthians 10, in particular verse 31. I am amazed and it’s only day one. This passage talks about what it looks like to eat and drink for the glory of the Lord… I observed through the chapter and here is what I’m learning:

    1) Victory over food temptation IS possible because God is faithful.
    2) I need to put food in it’s proper place — It is not to “consume” me as an idol.
    3) Eat what is profitable and edifying.
    4) I must remember that my life is not my own. My choices affect others — I am interdependent.
    5) My life goal and purpose is bringing salvation to others. Everything in my life – including eating – is to come under this purpose.

    It’s only Day One and I’m blown away by His Word and working in my thoughts and body. God is SO GOOD.

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