Examen – Week 1: Ash Wednesday

There is a tension at the heart of Lent that helps us on our spiritual journey.

On the one hand we start with Ash Wednesday. We might mark ourselves with a cross and we ask God to forgive us. We accept that we are broken, fallen and in need of rescuing. Then we begin to journey towards Easter, that great and terrifying moment where we see just what Jesus would do to rescue us, and we celebrate his defeat of death. On the one hand Lent has nothing to do with us and is all about God’s work.

On the other hand we might give something up, or make plans for reading or courses or prayer. We might use the next 40 days to build in a habit or try something to help us take a step closer to God. So there is a tension, which is in fact the perfect tension of following Jesus. We can’t do any of this, we’re utterly reliant on Jesus. Yet Jesus calls us. Lent becomes a time where we pay attention to our journey – how are we learning to follow him? 

We remember Jesus fasting in the desert and we attempt to walk more closely. Fasting is a great way to explore this tension. We give up something we love or need – screens, chocolate, meal(s), alcohol, because we want to make space in our lives to draw closer to God. We identify with Jesus as he fasted in the desert and received the Holy Spirit’s power. At the same time by giving things up we remind ourselves of our dependencies and appetites, we remember how weak we are.

Story

“I fast when I feel I need clarity from God. The process calms the storm within me from the voices that create uncertainty, confusion, and doubt. This might be for myself or when someone else is needing guidance or healing. Clarity comes as I replace what I am fasting from with prayer and reading my bible. The result of fasting for me is always a renewed sense of well-being, hope, purpose and direction.” Mandy

Is there something you might fast from this Lent?

God, investigate my life;
get all the facts firsthand.
I’m an open book to you; Psalm 139:1 (MSG)

Jesus, teach me to occasionally live with less,
to fast those things which distract me
or in which I am tempted to put my trust.
I know that you have the best for me
and are leading me in the way of everlasting abundant life.
Amen. Engage Worship

Ponder

How does your life demonstrate that you follow Jesus?

How does your life demonstrate that you need Jesus’ help?

How might fasting feature in your Lent this year?

Read Psalm 139 and ask God to investigate you.

Try this

Take a moment to read our journey statements again.

Are there any you feel you have taken steps forward with this year?

Are there any you feel you want to do something about?