This year I decided to do lent for the first time. For some reason when the opportunity presented itself and I had the chance to give up all of my favorite things for an extended amount of time, I took it.
For 40 days I gave up coffee, candy, social media and alcohol. I wish I could say that the hardest part was the no coffee but lets be real, it was giving up candy.
Before this year I didn't really know much about Lent. Growing up my family wasn't big on Easter, we would go to church the weekend of but besides that we wouldn't do Easter egg hunts, or baskets or anything. I grew up with the sense that Easter was another holiday that society capitalized on but didn't truly understand.
The last 40 or so days have changed my entire view of this season. Easter is more than just another day out of the 365 that we get each year. The concept, the truth behind Easter, is the foundation of the Christian faith.
For those who aren't super familiar, the 40 days leading up to Easter, lent, is meant to model the 40 days that Jesus spent fasting in the wilderness. The bible says that Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness and he fasted for 40 days and 40 nights and when it was over he was tempted by the devil. Hebrews says that because Jesus suffered and was tempted he is able to help us when we are tempted.
On Easter Sunday, as I sang a set of worship songs to a congregation full of people the truth of Easter reverberated in my soul. I realized that regardless of what we add to the day, how we enhance it and make it marketable, Easter is and will always be about Jesus.
Lent for me was not about just taking a break from things that I enjoy. It wasn't about forcing myself to stop going on Facebook and to lay off the candy for a few weeks. Lent helped me to be able to narrow my focus, It took away the heavy distractions and clutter that often fogged my view. Lent pulled away the junk in my life and pointed me straight to the giver of life, it pointed me to Christ.
Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It's what happened after the disciples saw Jesus hanging on a cross, crucified. Jesus, their hope for the future, was gone. The messiah had seemingly been defeated and death had won.
The truth though is that death is defeated and Christ is risen. He rose again on the third day and renewed the disciples hope in him as their savior and as the savior of all mankind. The darkness of the weekend and the sight of him hanging from a tree was erased by the joy of seeing him again in all of his honor and glory.
Easter is so much more than just pastel colors and packed church services. Lent reminded me that the resurrection is the Christian story. It's the three years that Jesus spent preaching and reaching out to the lost coming to an abrupt halt and then beauty, glorious beauty, being born from the ashes.
Lent was the path that I needed to take to become truly connected to the Easter story. It was the defining moment that made Easter not just another bible story but rather the moment in history that makes everything that I believe in truth.
"If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said; if he didn't rise from the dead then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything stands is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead." - Tim Keller