Lent, cracking open hard hearts

Lent, cracking open hard hearts

An elderly Lutheran, was asked what he was giving up for Lent. He replied with painful eyes, 'Are you kidding? Give up? Half of the things I used to be able to do, I can't do anymore. I ache, I have a hard time sleeping. I've given up more than enough. I'd like to start getting back."

As early as the 450 AD, Christians began observing a time of preparation before the Easter celebration. The Lenten season began on Ash Wednesday and lasts for 40 days. The forty days of Lent are symboloic of the 40 day fast of Jesus in the wilderness after his baptism (Matthew 4:2, Luke 4:1-2) and Moses' 40 day fast on Mount Sinai (Exodus 34:28). It is a time of simplicity and preparation.  

A hungry stomach from fasting, a mind engaged in prayer, a hand extended to help another - these are all intended as tools and preparation  in opening our hearts. The heart is like a 'tough mature black walnut' to crack. Think of this and allow Christ's tender love to ooze in through those cracks.  

"I think of Psalm 51:17 'A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.' Not only will God not despise a broken heart, but as Psalm 34 puts it, 'the Lord is close to the broken hearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.'

The gentleman in our opening illustration who feels broken possibly can skip fasting and look longingly to our Lord on the cross who understands his human struggles and pains. For the rest of us, lets fast, pray, and sacrifice for others as we remember how much Jesus gave up for us - not just fasting in the wilderness but the excruciating pain leading to death for our sins. May this preparation properly prepare us to savor the joy of the resurrection.