©Joy Dunlap https://joydunlap.com
What if we sacrifice time for Lent?
We say we never have enough time or enough hours in the day. “I’m just so busy,” are words we often hear and sometimes voice. We rush from place to place, activity to activity, event to event, often creating anxiety, stress and exhaustion with schedules so tight that it’s difficult to experience enjoyment.
Since time is such a valuable commodity, wouldn’t it be a real sacrifice to give some of it up for the 40 days of Lent? In the weeks leading up to Good Friday and Easter Sunday, many Christians give up something for Lent – self-denial as an acknowledgement of Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness when He rebuked Satan and temptation. Food items, such as candy or cookies, soft drinks or French fries often end up high on the lists that people choose to give up.
Why not sacrifice time instead? When we sacrifice time for the sake of another – whether it’s an hour or two a day – we are really sacrificing our wants and desires so that someone else will benefit.
When we choose to spend time with someone, we send a message that we value them, that they matter to us, and what they say is important enough for us to hear. Likewise, when we use our time for someone, we let them know that we see their needs and that we care enough for them to give up our time to help them.
So, what could a sacrifice of time during Lent entail?
Does it mean less hours in front of the TV watching network, Netflix or Amazon shows? Perhaps it means less time together as a couple and more time in community. Or could it mean less time with everyone else other than your spouse and more time with your loved one? Could it mean giving up that good book on your nightstand for reading more of the Best Book – the Bible?
Sacrifice time by choice. Not because it’s an obligation. Not because it’s a duty. Not because it’s required.
Are we willing?
Consider some ways we could sacrifice time during Lent:
- Help a friend clean out her closet (make sure she really wants you to do this!)
- Visit a nursing home and spend time with someone who has no family or rarely has visitors.
- Serve meals to the homeless and engage in conversation with them.
- Spend an hour sitting and talking to a shut-in.
- Call a friend you haven’t talked to in months.
- Write a note of thanks to someone who helped you in the past.
- Cook a special meal for someone who lives alone – and enjoy it with them.
- Write a note to the family member of a friend who lives away and might be lonely.
- Join a friend sitting with a loved one in the hospital.
- Invite a group of friends to gather over hot chocolate, cake and cookies. Ask questions to find out more about each other.
- Plant flowers or vegetables in another’s garden (with their permission, of course!) or start a community garden.
- Walk the dog of someone who has difficulty getting out.
- Pick up litter along a stretch of road.
- Support a friend with a project that’s important to her.
- Volunteer to read to a group of children at the local library or help at an area school.
- Take a young mom’s children to the park or to a movie to give her a break.
- Help an elderly person with technology.
- Invite those in your neighborhood over for a casual “After Work” gathering one evening.
- Make an effort to get to know international students at your local college or university.
- Stop and visit with service staff you encounter.
- Initiate a meal out with someone who’s been widowed or lost a parent.
- Write a note of thanks to a veteran or someone who currently serves in the military – whether active duty, Reserves or National Guard.
- Increase your time spent in Bible study and prayer to strengthen your relationship with God.
- Encourage a couple of friends to join you in giving a party for homeless children.
- Ask an elderly person to share their personal stories. Listen.
- Pray daily for individuals you know to strengthen their relationships with the Lord.
- Make those friend lunch dates you keep talking about doing.
- Go hear a Christian speaker or musician in your area.
- Trade social media time for time spent interacting personally with others.
- Reach out to someone who is outside your normal circle of friends.
- Write out a prayer on behalf of someone who’s struggling and share it with them.
- Connect with someone you haven’t in a long time.
- Fix something for a person who needs assistance.
- Set aside a daily prayer time or increase your prayer time.
- Write reflections and meditate on Scriptures about Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection..
- Invite a friend for a walk and listen.
How else can you sacrifice time in the weeks leading up to Easter? Ask “What can I release to open up space in my life as a means to sacrifice time?”
Ask “How can I use my time to make someone else’s life better today?” and “How can I use my time to draw closer to God today?”
Pray that God will reveal ways you can sacrifice time for others and for Him this Lenten season. Stretch yourself beyond your normal gifts of time for others and for God.
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. 1 Peter 1: 18-22 NIV
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13 NIV
- What, if anything, did you give up for Lent in the past?
- Did it strengthen your relationship with the Lord? If so, how? If not, why not?
- How could you sacrifice time to help someone and draw closer to God this Lenten season?
- Is a sacrifice of time what God is calling you to give?
Remember…Life Is Better When It’s Full – Joy-full, Thank-full, Purpose-full and Friend-full! ™