AdLENTure - A Journey in Learning

Lent - Wednesday 2nd March – Saturday 16th April 

According to the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, after 40 days and 40 nights without food or water, the temptation of Christ took place.  

Wandering the Judean Desert shortly after his baptism, Christ entered a period of aestheticism in which he lived for over a month without sustenance or shelter. While at his weakest, the devil visited Christ. He tempted him with food and taunted him with challenge (Matthew 4). Firstly, the devil demanded Christ prove his divinity by turning stones into bread (4:3). Christ refused. Then he took Jesus to the pinnacle of a temple and told him to jump, knowing that the angels of God would catch him (4:6). Christ refused. Finally, the devil took Jesus to Mount Quarantania in Jericho where, in exchange for satanic devotion, he promised Christ dominion of earth and adoration from the people he would soon save (4:9). Christ refused.  

In awe of the hunger of Christ, for 40 days, some people choose to give something up: social media, chocolate, alcohol, sugar, television or streaming services; basically anything that you enjoy but, perhaps, over-indulge in. Some choose to take something up: reading every evening, doing yoga, cooking from scratch, or volunteering at a charity every weekend. Some choose to do both. Last year, I chose to read every night because it’s something I’m not naturally good at but know is beneficial to my writing ability and knowledge. Regardless of what you choose, it is important not to judge the Lenten decisions of others but to find what works for you!  

Often people over-focus on the aspect of Lent that involves giving or taking something up and forget to focus on the spiritual journey that can entail. The relevance of our relationship with God is often made secondary to the challenges we set ourselves during Lent. While he was in the desert, God never left Jesus’ side, angels would have caught him had he jumped from the temple and they “waited on him” when he needed rest after his ordeal (Mark 1:13 NRSV). During Lent, it is important that we spend time reflecting on our relationship with God through prayer and contemplation. Lent, a journey in learning, gifts us a period of time to focus on God:  

How can I strengthen my personal relationship with God once Lent is over? 

Sometimes do I struggle to feel God’s presence, particularly when I need Him most? 

Does my attachment to God, or even my faith, change when I am going through a prolonged period of difficultly or distress? 

What can I do to feel more confident expressing my faith in God to those who ask me about it? 

When and where, or with who, do I feel closest to God?  

This Lent, try to wake up 15 minutes earlier than usual. Spend that time reflecting on your relationship with God and with Jesus. Perhaps, use that time to pray. It does not have to be a prayer with words, but something silent and introspective if you’d prefer. With just 15 minutes extra, slow down your day… spend an extra moment to breathe in the outside air more deeply, walk slightly slower, sing slightly louder, over-think a little less and pray slightly more.  

If you would like to engage in more practical activities this Lent but are not sure where to begin, try a few different things. Rather than take up something for 40 days, or give up something for 40 days, use this reflective season in the Christian calendar to find something you desire to continue after the 40 days are over! Find something sustainable that brings you closer to God, such as reading the Bible more often or attending church events. Perhaps, begin learning a new skill, such as sewing, so that in the future you can avoid buying ethically murky fast fashion. Consider treating your body better with healthy foods and light exercise. Adopt a diet that is dictated not by the food products themselves but by those who produce them. For example, shopping free range, organic and independently farmed foods (please note that you can take commonly non-recyclable soft plastics and pet food pouches, among other products, to almost any Tesco store in the country, where they will recycle the packaging for you).

Lent will not answer all your questions about God but it can be used as an opportunity to slow things down. A journey in learning cannot be rushed, and the adventure of life itself cannot be understood in just 40 days but it is a place to begin.  

Dear God,  

Please guide my mind and fortify my faith with Your presence, fill the air with love and, please, walk with me up the path to my future. As I step forward, may I be reminded of Christ’s unwavering strength and loyalty during times of struggle, may I remember that the darkest valleys are not without Your light and my fears do not define me. This Lent, please give me the strength to question my faith, not to undermine it but to learn from it - to learn from You. May I be brave even when You feel far away from me, stand strong on the legs You gave me, and stride forward with confidence and certainty in the love You feel for me.