I was experiencing Lent burnout. In previous years, I spent 40 days fasting from caffeine, texting, YouTube, jewelry, and chocolate, to name a few. One year, I even honored Lent by giving away 40 of my belongings. What would I do this year? In addition to not being able to come up with any creative or unique fasts like before, I had recently returned from a three-month trip overseas and was between jobs.
My indulgences were already few and far between, as I tried to save the remains of my limited funds and gain employment. Would I be able to come up with a way to sacrifice for Lent that was any different than my current sacrifices?
I thought that maybe I should just skip Lent. It would only add more depression to my current struggles: no job, no money, miserable winter weather. To top that off, I discovered my “Read the Bible in a Year” plan would have me reading through the books of the Old Testament Law for most of the Lenten season. How would I be able to glean anything from such a dry, outdated section?
As it turns out, I had a lot to learn about Lent and Old Testament Law. And for the next 40 days, these lessons would go hand-in-hand.
The week before Ash Wednesday, I woke up with a great idea: instead of taking something away for Lent, why not add something? Maybe I could add a photo that I take each day, and then share it with my friends and family as a source of inspiration. Even better, what if the theme of the photo was based on something I learned in my daily Old Testament Bible reading?
On the first day of Lent, I decided to take a picture of my car. What did a car have to do with Exodus? Because I paid for my car in cash and didn’t have to make payments on it, it was evidence that I wasn’t indebted, or enslaved, to anyone. Having my car made me very thankful and blessed as I read about the Hebrew slaves in Egypt. And while they cried to God to be delivered to a new home, I could praise the same God as I used my car to deliver groceries and clothes to my home. Maybe it was a bit of a stretch, but taking that picture certainly helped me remember what I read!
This became my daily routine over the next several weeks. After reading Old Testament Law, I looked for something throughout the day that reminded me of that day’s passage, occasionally taking creative liberties. Then I’d snap a photo, and upload to Instagram and Facebook. My friends and followers got to share in the wandering ducks by the river that reminded me of the wandering Israelites in the desert; my plague of overpacking for a weekend retreat that wasn’t nearly as bad as the plagues the Egyptians experienced; the excitement my dog found in her daily routine contrasted with the anger the Hebrews had over eating the same food every day.
When Good Friday and Easter rolled around, I was further along in the Bible and ended my photographic Lent. But I continued appreciating the more mundane parts of the Bible, and I could relate Scripture to my life today. This may have not been an ordinary Lenten fast, but it certainly caused me to seek God more than any other Lent.
MEMORIES FROM THE CROSS
Just as photographs capture a memory for us to reflect and meditate on, let’s recapture pivotal moments in the crucifixion story. John 19 paints a painful picture of Jesus’ suffering. Take time to reflect on these seven memories of the cross. Draw or write what Jesus’ suffering and sacrifice means to you.
“Then Pilate had Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip” (John 19:1).
“The soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and they put a purple robe on Him” (John 19:2).
“‘Hail! King of the Jews!’ they mocked, as they slapped Him across the face” (John 19:3).
“Carrying the cross by Himself, He went to the place called Place of the Skull (in Hebrew, Golgotha). There they nailed Him to the cross” (John 19:17, 18a).
“And Pilate posted a sign on the cross that read, ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews’” (John 19:19).
The Wine Vinegar
“A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips” (John 19:29, NIV).
“One of the soldiers, however, pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water flowed out” (John 19:34).
Jessica Lippe | Cascade Division | Western Territory