I’ve never participated in Lent. I grew up Southern Baptist. I had barely heard of it when I left home for college and you can imagine what this small town girl thought it was the first time I heard of it. (something very pesky) Easter 2010 was no exception. I wouldn’t be “doing” Lent. I had missed Ash Wednesday anyway. In our home, we do prepare for Easter soon after that significant Wednesday by placing reminders of spring and new life about the house. My favorite hint of the new season are the red bud branches that Julia and I prune from a large tree in some woods near our home. I cram as many perfectly colored budded branches as I can in the back of our car and then into our house.
This was our first year to do an Easter tree (red bud branches) which told the story of God from Creation through the Resurrection. Some people use ornaments or symbols and some use pictures as we did. It fulfilled its goal of creating some anticipation toward the Glorious Morning to come, but He did so much more than that.
About a week after beginning our Easter tree, Julia began her own "Lent". She didn’t know it and I didn’t realize it. The Holy Spirit began to remind her of sins that were unconfessed. So as any tender, uninhibited eight year old, she began confessing. Truly. Real sins. Real regrets. Real tears. She did this morning till night for several days. In the morning, she’d wake up confessing having remembered something during the night. At night, she’d come downstairs after having been tucked in, convicted in the silence of her quiet bedroom to confess to us her sin. Some things were two years ago-- some 2 hours.
As her parents, you can imagine some of our thoughts..... does she just need some extra attention? (granted, a costly way to get it) Has someone harmed her in any way? Have we not emphasized grace enough in our home? And finally, God, what are you doing in her heart? In all honesty, it could be quite irritating and frankly, a few things she told me made me angry. I “stayed” there for a few days until the Lord spoke plainly to my heart through His Word.
Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.
When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Selah
Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said,“I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”—and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah
He wanted me to sit up and take note. Evidence was that His hand was "heavy upon" Julia and she was not about to “cover up [her] iniquity”. She was “blessed” and I needed to affirm her in that. The difficult part was trying to explain to an eight year old that all of her sins, past, present and future, were forgiven when she asked Jesus to be her Lord and Savior three years ago, but His Word says to confess our sins for our own healing and maybe for others and that forgiveness is hers, not ever to be taken away, but confession is good in every sense of the word.
I read somewhere that Lent is a “season of soul-searching and repentance. It is a season for reflection and taking stock” and that is what she was allowing the Holy Spirit to do within her. She didn't start it. He did. A genuine Lent. Her catharsis of confessions were, for me, humbling and for her, refreshing.
I am looking forward to Easter 2011.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. James 5:16a
Here a few of my favorite pictures from Easter.
This one is my very favorite. When I awakened Easter morning, all was quiet inside the house and this was why. (There are 2 little bodies in the left chair.)