Discovering Lent


I had planned on the kids staying behind while Matt and I took turns moving to the front of the room.  I don’t know if it was the dark room, the soft music or the crowd; but our boys wanted all of us to stay together.

Matt and I had decided to attend the Ash Wednesday service at our church, but I truly thought that our kids weren’t ready to receive the ashes or to take communion.  I assumed that the boys would have had to make a confession of faith, be baptised, etc…I put a lot of my preconceived ideas into a service that I had only attended once before. From what I understand, Ash Wednesday is a tradition on the church calendar and I love that it bridges across denominations, but it was (and is) still kind of new to me.

So when I found myself standing in line with my husband and ALL the kids I began to panic.

Was this okay?

Were we breaking any rules?

Were other children coming forward to participate?

I felt like people were staring at the back of my neck with judgement and displeasure in their eyes.  (“Paranoid, party of one!”)

My human desire to look, act and be perfect in front of my pastor, my community of believers and my friends was starting to take over. 

Thankfully, my fears and anxieties were silenced as I approached our Pastor.  I saw love and compassion in his eyes as he made a cross on my forehead with the ashes and said, “From dust you came, to dust you will return”.  The room faded away as he spoke this truth to me and I realized that I almost missed the point of this service. 

I stepped to the side, ready to apologize for my 8-year-old’s presence with me in line.  Before I could speak I had tears in my eyes as I watched Pastor kneel down in front of our son.  Pastor looked into his eyes with the same love, spoke words of truth, and spread the ashes on his forehead.  Our middle son was next in line and experienced the same thing, but our youngest guy – James – didn’t want any part of it and so we simply kept moving to the side.  

After having the ashes placed on their forehead in the shape of a cross the boys were given the communion elements and we returned to our seats. I kept watching the boys as we listened to the music and waited for the rest of the congregation to move to the front of the room. 

While we were waiting our 6 -year-old, Tyler, looked up at me, held out the cup and wafer and asked: “What are these for?” I began to explain the symbolism of the bread and the cup.  I explained that this season was a time to remember the sacrifice Christ made when He came to earth, His willingness to die on the cross and our response to live a life of sacrifice and self-denial.

I looked into the big, brown eyes of my son and was shocked that he was hanging on every word I said.  In the middle of my explanation I was overcome with emotion.  I couldn’t hold the tears back…suddenly it hit me…I thought of my Savior hanging on the cross, the spotless lamb who knew no sin – dying FOR ME!!!!!

To share this incredible truth with my son was NOT something I was expecting or prepared for.  We went on to talk about what the bread and juice represented and he asked with concern in his voice, “But this isn’t real blood is it?” (Leave it to a 6-year-old boy to lighten the mood 😮 ) I assured him it was not – only a symbol of Christ’s sacrifice.

As I lay in bed that night the Holy Spirit whispered a question to me, “Would you be willing to sacrifice your children for God’s kingdom? Would you sacrifice your expectations, your hopes and dreams for these boys in order that GOD’S will would be done?”

It was a tough question to hear and to answer.  I’ve always thought of lent as a time to give up something almost trite or convenient in order to focus more on my prayer life and devotion to Christ.  But I’ve discovered a new kind of Lenten season this time around.  I’ve been challenged to not only “give up” my expectations and claim over my children – I’ve been challenged by my Pastor and the Holy Spirit to “take on” something new – a life that is lived for something bigger than myself….

A daily, hourly, minute-by-minute effort to focus on the Creator’s voice, HIS direction and becoming more comfortable with what it means to truly “die to self”.

I don’t know how your family celebrates this time of anticipation as Easter approaches, but I’m happy to say that my preconceived idea that children can’t and aren’t ready to recognize and appreciate Christ’s sacrifice on the cross is GONE and I hope it never returns.  I’m claiming 2 Corinthians 5:17 during this time of waiting and anticipation:

     “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

I hope I never stop discovering the “NEW” parts of my life as a mom, a wife, a friend and most importantly a follower of Christ.  Easter morning I think I’d like to add something to the phrase, “He is RISEN!” I think I’d like to say to people as I greet them, “He is RISEN! And so is a new part of me!”

I hope each of you finds peace, joy, purpose and comfort in knowing that even Christ – the perfect Son of God – suffered while he lived on earth, but He knew it was for a purpose bigger than Himself.

We might be living moment-by-moment, feeling as though we’re in the muck and the mire of motherhood – but living a life of sacrifice is a beautiful, peaceful place to be. 

You are an amazing blessing and you are doing a great job – trust yourself, lean on your Savior and reach out to your friends – let’s see what new things God wants to show us as we sacrifice ourselves to Him completely! 😮

Kasey

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