Some of my earliest memories are of long road-trips with my family. One of them was a car ride from our home in Fredericksburg to my father’s hometown of Auburn, Alabama. My parents, two older brothers, and I piled into the station wagon and drove through the night until we reached the old Ingram homestead. Of course, back then, the boys had free reign of the car’s interior – so making our own fun wasn’t so difficult. None-the-less, my parents must have been exhausted to hear the refrain every 10 minutes, “how many more miles?” These days, we must strap our kids in like NASCAR drivers. It’s no wonder that we need to have TVs hanging from the ceiling and more cup holders than a poker table.

This week marks the beginning of Lent. We gathered on Ash Wednesday for a special service where ashes are spread on our foreheads in the shape of a cross and reminded that we are from dust and will one day return to dust. This is called the “imposition of ashes.” On most days, we are fortunate to proclaim our freedom in Jesus. 2 Corinthians reminds us that where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. Ash Wednesday stands in stark contrast when we have the inescapable darkness of the cross imposed upon us.

Lent provides us with the opportunity to focus inward and to consider those things that nurture us and those things that weigh us down. There is no faking it, and no way around it. It’s a journey, and sometimes dark and difficult. But there is a light – the promise of Easter, the promise for healing and wholeness that will always scoop us up from the ashes.

Here are a few ideas for you to enhance your Lenten journey:

  • Journey to the Cross is the Lenten series of the daily devotional d365.org. This is a ministry of Passport, and although intended for students is applicable for learners of all ages. d365 is available online at d365.org and through freely available iOS and Android apps.
  • Take on something new. Perhaps it’s a spiritual discipline like intentional prayer time, scripture reading, or journaling. Maybe it’s a physical activity like walking, knitting, or cooking yummy food. As you take on something new, think of something to lay down to make space: a bad habit, a drain on your resources, or something that keeps you from forgiving others or yourself.
  • Marnie put together this Lenten calendar for the youth. Perhaps your or your family could use this to focus your energy and bring positive disciplines into your Lenten journey.

My prayer for this Lenten season is that we each have the courage to let some things go, and the wisdom to hold fast to what is true. For it is only by God’s grace that our lives can reflect God’s love. May it be so.

Written by Daniel Ingram