clean out your lint during lent
Ponder these statistics. 2,900 home clothes dryer fires are reported each year and cause an estimated 5 deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property loss. Of these reports, 34 percent of them can be traced back to simply not cleaning the dryer lint (source: https://www.usfa.fema.gov/prevention/outreach/clothes_dryers.html).
Fire in the right context can be a good thing, but when it is not contained it is harmful, as seen in the statistics above.
So think about this… a simple act that takes no more than 30 seconds could prevent a serious unwanted fire that will cause irreversible damage.
Dryers seem harmless. They were designed to repeat the same simple action over and over in a routine fashion. Routine isn’t bad, but routine requires cleaning. If the cleaning required is neglected, there is a harmful build-up that will accumulate behind the scenes in the dryer vent that we can’t readily see. What helps to prevent this build-up? A simple 30-second routine.
By definition, a routine is a sequence of actions that is followed regularly, whether that be daily, weekly, or yearly. Today marks what is historically referred to as Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is a yearly routine that is always 46 days before Easter. It is known as Ash Wednesday because it marks the beginning of what came to be known as the yearly season of Lent. Why the reference to ashes? The mention of ashes in the Scriptures usually serves as a sign and visual representation of repentance and mourning. There is a practice that is still carried on in some streams of the Christian Church today in which ashes (sometimes the ashes of palm branches from Palm Sunday of the previous year) are placed on the foreheads of worshippers in the shape of a cross. This is to commemorate the beginning of a period of 40 days of reflection, penitence, and preparing for the glorious celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead on Easter Sunday. Now the math is not off here, the reason Ash Wednesday is 46 days before Easter is that Sundays are traditionally excluded in the count of Lent days. Observing Lent often involves fasting, and so the 6 Sundays leading up to Easter during the Lenten season are excluded, as Sundays are considered festive feast days in honor of Jesus’ resurrection, and so are not to be observed as days of fasting. Why 40 days of fasting? While lent was originally shorter, it eventually was associated with other periods of 40 days in the Bible, most notably the 40 day fast of the Lord Jesus which prepared Him for the start of His public ministry.
Whether you observe Lent or not, we can all benefit from taking time to reflect on our routines or lack thereof. While we don’t have to wait for Lent, it is important to have a rhythm of reflecting and considering where you are at in your relationship with God. Lent can be used as a time to clean off the lint in our lives and prevent unwanted, destructive habits from continuing to wreak havoc in our lives and relationships. So, use this day to reflect, and intentionally put into practice some helpful routines that will aid you in loving God and loving others. Either learn how to put into practice, or ramp up your discipline in healthy routines like prayer and Bible reading, or perhaps silence and solitude, so that you can live in the fullness of the reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. His resurrection invites us to live resurrected lives, and not remain in our old pattern of doing things.
So, on this Ash Wednesday, we are reminded of our mortality and frailty as human beings. “You are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19). Yet we must remember that our mortality is brought upon us by our own doing. Adam & Eve failed to trust God and disobeyed in the Garden of Eden only to find that it led to separation from God’s physical presence. In pain no doubt, God covered them and sent them out, because God could not run the risk of Adam & Eve eating from the tree of life and permanently remaining in their fallen state. This speaks to the fact that the story doesn’t end there. In God’s mercy and grace, He sets in motion a plan of redemption that is expressed in Jesus’ finished work on the cross and subsequent resurrection from the dead 3 days later. This foreshadows the grand consummation of redemption that still awaits us at the end of the age. This is what we as Christians hope for and look forward to because we know the story isn’t over. As we prepare for Easter, let’s remember that we are but dust, but in the words of Trevor Hudson, we are beloved dust.
Personally, I have never looked into or observed Lent before, as I do not come from a high church, liturgical background, yet I have always been curious about why it seems to be such a big deal. While I don’t believe Lent is something that should be mandated, and it is certainly not to be practiced as a means to gain favor with God, I’m intrigued by the yearly rhythm and routine it can create in doing some house cleaning, cleaning the lint out if you will. If you want to come on the journey with me, I’ve listed links below to a few resources that I believe are going to be helpful during this Lenten season:
Here is a daily devotional from a fellow South African, Trevor Hudson, that is specifically written to be used during Lent:
This is a free devotional plan that can be accessed through the free Bible App, called YouVersion:
“Rend your heart
and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love…”
- Joel 2:13 New International Version (NIV)
Let’s engage with this together. Leave a comment below and let us know if you have ever observed Lent or Ash Wednesday before. If you have, what was your experience with it? Even if you haven’t, what is your perception of it?
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