Black Before Spring

You may have been wondering for the past few weeks why the images that are usually on my blog are black. You may not have noticed at all. Or you may not have visited since my last post. I do hope that last sentence is not the case, but if it is, that is quite all right too. Whether you noticed the black at the top of the page or not – whether you have visited or not – I am glad you are here now. Please keep visiting.

(By the way, even if I do not update my blog regularly with new posts, I am often updating it elsewhere. Look at the “About the Author” page for recent reads and watches, and peruse the “Further Exploration” page for reading and watching suggestions. I have not yet put up my listening suggestions simply because that will be a massive task. I like and own so much music that it is going to take quite a while to wheedle it down to a remotely approachable list of musical suggestions!)

But back to black: The black images do not mean that your internet browser is acting up. I intentionally made the heading images on my blog black for Lent. Lent and Easter are such important parts of each year and I enjoy using imagery and symbolism in my life – especially my spiritual life – because they take it to a level that is deeper and more meaningful. The light and joyous occasion of Easter can be enjoyed even more after a period of darkness. Just like thinking of life as a box of chocolates helps you understand (or accept) life better when you get a chocolate you weren’t expecting? Uh… maybe.

If you ask me what my favorite holiday is, I will say that it is Easter, but I quite like Lent as well. It sounds a bit weird to say that I like Lent because Lent is a time people usually think of as a depressing dark time before spring where they have to give up something they love. But, no, Lent is instead a time for us to make a deliberate decision to spend more time with Jesus. On Good Friday, we will mourn His death, and on Easter, we will celebrate His resurrection. But during Lent, we get to spend time with Him as our friend, father, and most dedicated lover.

For me, the purpose behind Lent hits closer to home than any other holiday or celebration throughout the year. During Lent we are reminded of our great need for Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross. We are forced to remember our fickle, sinful selves, and are therefore reminded more of our need for Him. I used to think Lent was only about finding our sin and purging ourselves of it. I find it quite easy to rake myself over the coals and think of every bad thing that I have done and get depressed about how awful I am. But it is not healthy to focus solely on that side of Lent. We can remember our great sin, but the remembrance of our sins should not make us more depressed; it should make us more thankful for Jesus and joyful because He loves us so very much. And He does love us so very much.

He loves us so much that He wants to spend every single moment with us. Every time we push ourselves away from Jesus, He gets more sad to be separated from us and longs for us more. Every time we come near to Jesus or we allow Him to come near to us, He is overjoyed to have us with Him again. That is what Lent is truly about. The reason for finding the sin in our lives is just to make us more aware of our need for Jesus, and realizing our need for Jesus should hopefully bring us more to Jesus. During Lent, we may decide to take something out of our lives (dessert, alcohol, binge-watching TV shows, etc.), but the reason we take these things away is not to make us uncomfortable and self-denying for forty days. The real reason is so that we are no longer distracted by the things that usually distract us. We take them away to make us more dependent upon Jesus and desirous for time with Him since we usually use our distractions to postpone or avoid interactions with Jesus.

I only discovered this reason for Lent recently, and it has been such a freeing way to look at this precious season before spring. After all, during the weeks leading up to Jesus’ death on the cross, did He tell His disciples to go away and think of all the bad things they had done or all the earthly things they depended upon instead of depending upon Jesus? No! This is what He said: “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day.” (Mark 2:19-20, ESV) For the forty days (and more) leading up to Christ’s crucifixion, the disciples were celebrating the bridegroom’s presence there with them (and bickering about who was first and who was last and other nonsense humans think is so very important).

That certainly does not mean that during Lent, we should be in a mode of constant celebration; Jesus wants to be a part of our solemnity as well. It takes solemnity to understand the depths of our black hearts and it takes solemnity to process the brokenness of our world. But through that solemnity, we can find joy in knowing that Jesus loves us dearly and has assured our pardon through His own awful death on the cross.

So please take the rest of this Lenten season to spend as much time as possible with our own bridegroom, Jesus, and to prepare to mourn and celebrate His death and resurrection at Easter.

Read from the beginning:


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