For many, Lent is a season of self-denial and self-reflection. A person chooses to give up something and spend the next 40 days (excluding Sundays) focusing on their relationship with Jesus. Lent is a tradition, not a Biblical command, that began around the 4th century-so there are no hard and fast rules as to how to celebrate.
I choose to do Lent a little differently. Rather than give up something during this time, I choose to do something. Yes, Jesus did spend 40 days in the wilderness fasting and being tempted before he began his ministry. For many that is what this period is modeled after and that is GREAT. However, I choose to focus instead on Jesus ministry during this time.
Jesus came to change the world. He came to show the world what real love and forgiveness is, and He did it through actions. He didn't just walk around telling everyone what they should do, He showed them too. He reached out to the lepers, the untouchables, the outcasts and He helped them. THAT is what I choose to focus on during this season before Jesus ultimate act of giving, and that is why I began the 40 hats in 40 days challenge several years ago.
I prayed and asked God to show me how I can help others, what I could do. As a stay at home mom who now homeschools I don't have a lot a free time and many avenues of service are unavailable to me because I can't bring my children due to age restrictions. But I can knit and crochet, and I had already been working off and on with a local organization that donates preemie and newborn items to hospitals around the country. God impressed it upon me to focus on what was around me, to use the talents He had provided to serve, and thus the challenge was started.
It goes so far beyond just making a hat a day for 40 days though. During the time I am knitting or crocheting I am praying for the person and the family that will be receiving the hat. I will probably never know who they are, but God does, and He knows their needs long before I pick out the pattern for the hat. So I pray for the child to come to know God, to be shown His love. I pray for the family to let Jesus guide them in their roles as parents, siblings, grandparents etc, that they open their hearts, listen and obey. I pray that if they don't already know Jesus that someone close to them tells them about Him. I pray for protection for the family. Sometimes there is more, sometimes there is less...I let God lead the prayer.
Yarn crafts may not be your thing, but I promise you - you do have a thing, a special talent that God wants you to use to make a difference in the lives of others. Perhaps you have felt Him nudging you in that direction and you have been afraid to step out, consider this confirmation. Perhaps you aren't sure what you should be doing, take some time to pray and open your heart to listen. You won't regret it. Whatever IT is, won't you join me for the next 40 days and work towards making a difference for Jesus?