Lent 2016: Ready or Not—Here it Comes!

Oh God, let something essential happen to me, something more than interesting or entertaining or thoughtful.  Oh God, let something essential happen to me, something awesome, something real.  Speak to my condition, Lord and change me somewhere inside where it matters.  Let something happen which is my real self, Oh God.

—Ted Loder

This year, I must admit that I don’t feel quite ready for Lent with all of its demands and its disciplines.  It seems to have come quickly and we have barely cleaned up from Christmas!

But I also don’t want to miss anything.  I don’t want to miss the possibility of having my life stripped down to its barest essence through the disciplines of abstinence. I don’t want to miss the possibility for real life change that only comes through repentance, confession and making things right. I don’t want to miss the opportunity to return to God with all my heart…to experience resurrection in the places in my heart and life that feel like they are dead and dying.

SO, even though I don’t feel quite ready, there is something about the season of Lent that causes me to feel strangely hopeful about the power of repentance and forgiveness in my own life… hopeful about the possibility of greater freedom in places where I am in bondage…hopeful about the Pascal mystery of death, burial, and resurrection taking place in my life.

Ready or not, my heart is also saying that I want to enter into Lent in a way that has meaning and will change me somewhere deep inside where it matters.  I don’t want to just “give up chocolate for Lent” because I like chocolate and God is the curmudgeon in the sky who wants to keep it from me.  I want to enter into Lenten disciplines that correspond to the places in my life that cry out for deeper levels of transformation. Oh God, let something essential happen to me.

So what about you? How do you want to enter into Lent?

Transforming Resources for a meaningful Lent

Ruth Haley Barton

Ruth (Doctor of Divinity, Northern Seminary) is Founder and Chief Essence Officer of the Transforming Center. A teacher, seasoned spiritual director (Shalem Institute), and retreat leader, Ruth is the author of numerous books and resources on the spiritual life including Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership, Sacred Rhythms, Life Together in Christ, Pursuing God’s Will Together, Invitation to Solitude and Silence, Invitation to Retreat, and Embracing Rhythms of Work and Rest (Oct 2022).
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Yes we’re ready 🙂 God bless

Thank you for the reflections…..You opened up a bigger/broader way to pray and approach lent.
Isn’t it funny? I was thinking about giving up dark chocolate, because I love it so much. Then you stated that in your writing. I could “give up” the chocolate but this is just a portion of what lent can bring to me spiritually. The only reason I give up certain food habits is because I am such a foody, and I think that it is good for me to refocus my thoughts toward the fact He is my delight and is the only one who can truly feed me and nourish me.
I like the prayer you have here and will use it to commune with the Lord. Thank you!

So full of gratitude as the Lenten season approaches. These words in your eReflections are so encouraging and authentic. I’m entering into the 2nd retreat phase on the sacred rhythms of Rest and Sabbath at Church of the Open Door in MN following Transforming Center disciples and resources. Although since I’m a new member of Open Door I wasn’t admitted into the first 2 cohorts or able to participate in a Spiritual Formation small groups associated with the Cohorts at Open Door~ I’ve been provided the sweetest of glimpses into the teaching (half day retreat) and am reading the books and other materials the Cohorts are covering in addition to reading your other books. I feel like I’ve been re-awakened, invited to peep over the railing of the Center experience and savoring the most refreshing sips from deepest cup of purest of water. The timing of Lent along side this Retreat program is remarkable.

I want to enter into Lent alert, aware, peaceful and surrendered. If in this state with God, I sense his invitation to bring a specific offering to him (i.e., give something up) then I want to be the kind of person who freely and gladly does that.

What I don’t want is to give something up for the sake of “giving something up” because everyone else is doing it. I also don’t want to assert control over my spiritual life and assume I know what needs to happen.

Sometimes, if we find ourselves in a dark night (which I have been for over a decade), it is enough to realize our life is one of giving up – giving up what we held dear (dreams, friendships, a sense of purpose and significance in life, etc.) in order to be lifted up by God in his time. The Dark Night feels like one massive lenten season of “giving up!”

Didn’t realize my thoughts would take me there, but I’m thankful for your words Ruth and your ministry!


I too long for something essential to happen in me…something only God can do. I’ve been running the past few weeks and its time to slow back down and listen to the Spirit. I just got your Lent guide and look forward to it leading me in this season. Thanks!

This is a good word to us as Lent comes early this year.
Thank you.

I have ordered and received your Lenten materials. So grateful and excited to begin. I am not familiar with Lenten disciplines and desire with a longing to embrace more. Would you direct me to a resource to look at These disciplines to guide me ?

Thank you.

The guide you ordered will lead you in looking at six themes that are associated with Lent. This eReflections from last year would also be a great resource. Alhough it is not specifically about Lent and I feel like I am selling, but Sacred Rhythms is an excellent guide in finding practices that will open you up to God’s activity in your own life. We will pray that this Lent will be season of transformation.

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