Today is the first day of Lent. The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary describes Lent this way:
English word (stemming from an Anglo-Saxon word for ‘spring' and related to the English word ‘lengthen') that refers to the penitential period preceding Easter. Early Christians felt that the magnitude of the Easter celebration called for special preparation. As early as the second century, many Christians observed several days of fasting as part of that preparation. Over the next few centuries, perhaps in remembrance of Jesus’ fasting for 40 days in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1–2), 40 days became the accepted length of the Lenten season. Since, from the earliest years of Christianity, it had been considered inappropriate to fast on the day of the resurrection, Sundays were not counted in the 40 days. Thus, the Wednesday 46 days before Easter came to be regarded as the beginning of Lent.
My church for the last several years has emphasized Lent and encouraged us to participate as a way to prepare for Easter and draw closer to the Lord during this time. I have decided to participate this year, and the Lord is already using this time to remind me of my constant need for his presence. I am already learning—even on the morning of the first day of Lent!—that this season is less about giving something up and more about drawing near to Christ in preparation for the celebration of his resurrection on Easter Sunday.
May the Lord bless you richly during these coming weeks as we all prepare our hearts for Easter!