Lent is a season of fasting and repentance that reminds us, in an embodied way, that we have not yet reached the promised land. In this mortal life, we are on pilgrimage. God gives us nourishment, which can offer a foretaste of our final destination. But we’re not there yet.
The 40 days of Lent remind us that Israel spent 40 years in the wilderness, facing temptation, completely dependent upon the Lord’s provision for food and water. Likewise, Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness, facing temptation. He fasted from food but fed upon the word of God (Matt. 4:4). Jesus is our pioneer in the wilderness, showing us that we need not build idols to receive true deliverance. Rather, in Christ, we are freed to live in dependence upon and active obedience to the Father.
Beginning on Ash Wednesday, we’re reminded: “you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Gen. 3:19). The next 39 days build upon the reality that we are mortal creatures, utterly dependent upon God for each breath. We also recognize and repent of the ways in which we have been building idols for ourselves in the wilderness. Following Christ, we are called to a path of prayer, meditation upon scripture, and fasting — a different path through the wilderness. For this reason, many people choose to mark this season by taking on spiritual practices or giving things up. All of this leads to the commemoration of the moment when the promised land — the Temple — Jesus Christ himself — brings together heaven and earth in his work on the cross (on Good Friday) and resurrection of Christ (on Easter).
In this guide, you’ll find a reflection for each of the seven weeks of Lent, beginning with the half week that starts on Ash Wednesday. Each week’s entry draws on themes from the seven chapters of The End of the Christian Life and includes a psalm to orient our lives and our practices within the Word of God, a brief reflection, a prompt for prayer, and suggestions for daily and weekly practices. As the introduction to The End of the Christian Life notes, the book itself is a journey, a Christ-shaped path of recognizing and repenting of the idols that bind us. It is a journey from darkness to light, culminating in the God of life revealed in the crucified and resurrected Christ. It brings readers on a pilgrimage to cultivate true Easter hope. As such, the book is an ideal companion in the season of Lent, though it was not written exclusively for that purpose. We invite you to use this guide in conjunction with your individual or group reading of The End of the Christian Life.
We are mortal. We are limited. We are dust. Yet, we are also beloved creatures, embraced by the Living God in Christ and given an astonishing hope and vocation on this earthly pilgrimage. Join us on this journey, as we deepen our hope in the cross and resurrection of Christ on this dusty path.
Todd Billings and Katlyn DeVries