“And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.” Mark 1:12-13
Last week I looked at my calendar and was surprised (yet again) that Ash Wednesday is virtually upon us! Easter is coming quite early this year and falls on March 31st and this means that Lent begins quite early as well. February 13th, to be exact.
Lent is a season that means different things at different times for each of us. Like many complex things in the church and the life of faith, saying what the season of Lent is actually about is not a simple task. It is symbolic of a lot of 40s that we find in scripture but one most easily connected to this church season is Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness immediately after his baptism. Immediately after being baptized by John the Baptizer and receiving the Holy Spirit, that same Spirit drives him into the wilderness. It is in that wilderness that he struggles with the devil and the many temptations presented to him. Jesus defeats the devil, at least for the time being, by exercising his faith. In other words, he relies upon his faith for the answers to all the temptations presented to him.
It has been said that Lent can be a time when we exercise our faith, too. Whether or not we give up something or take up a new discipline between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday, we can ultimately think of it as finding a way to exercise or work out our faith life in order to make it stronger. Our faith is a gift from God, just like our bodies, our lives and everything we have, and using it well is a very good thing to do!
So what will you do to exercise your faith this Lent? May God bless us all as we journey together through this season and may God strengthen our faith!