Hello out there! How’s everyone doing? It’s REALLY cold here, as I write, snow’s a comin’. So, grab a cuppa something hot, and a warm blankie, and get comfy. Are all y’all getting ready for Easter? Planning a big dinner? Getting everything all ready for company to come? I even know several ladies who are getting married soon! So, what about Easter? Are you doing any spiritual preparation? Did you know that’s what the season of Lent is really all about?
Today, I was thinking about the story of Esther and the movie title, “One Night With the King”. I thought of all the planning and preparation Esther did before her one shot to ‘audition’ for the role and title of “Queen”.
In some ways, Esther had been preparing for this her entire life. Unknowingly, every decision she’d made had led up to who she was now. Every thought she had entertained had shaped her in some way. Every prayer she’d ever prayed, every minute she’d spent studying. Every time she chose to have good manners, to be thoughtful and kind, to practice wisdom, she reinforced her own character. That was about to serve her very well.
The preparation to go before the king took an entire year, for a variety of reasons. One was quite practical. It ensured that there was no ‘future heir to the throne’ on the way. Then the skin had to be super-cleansed and softened, and all unpleasant bodily orders had to be eradicated. In a hot climate with no air conditioning, that was no small order. The women were soaked, massaged with oils and ointments, and truly given the ‘royal treatment’. I’ve read that the scrubbing and massages were partly to uncover and treat any possible skin issues, infections, or whatever, before the woman went to the king. In addition, for an entire year she was perfumed with the smoke of incense and even given spiced wine with myrrh to drink. I read someplace a long time ago that the women actually ate myrrh to make their breath smell like perfume. They were literally soaked in the perfume so it permeated every part of them. All the king would smell when the woman was near, was the perfume. Most likely myrrh.
Myrrh was also an embalming spice, which speaks of death. There would certainly be a death on some levels – death to an old way of life if she were taken into the king’s harem, or to be his actual reigning queen.
So, how does this tie in with Lent? Lent is our preparation for celebrating the resurrection. We take the time to get super cleaned up, to soak in the things of God and allow the Holy Spirit to work on our flaws so that we can be more perfect for Him. We sit in the ‘incense’ of church services. We ‘eat’ the Word – take it into ourselves. We soak in more or longer times of prayer, we allow the Holy Spirit to scrub and massage our souls, to remove any spot, blemish or wrinkle that might hinder our intimate relationship with our King, Jesus. There may be things in our life that just need to die. There might be bad attitudes, or addictions, or unhealthy relationships.
There was another phase of the preparations, as well. The cosmetics. Not only were things taken off, and scrubbed away, but new beauty treatments were applied. In the same way, we can ‘put on’ new habits, new attitudes, new virtues. Lent is about getting better, not just about giving up things we enjoy, like chocolate. It’s about deepening our relationship with Jesus and becoming more like Him, even as we prepare to celebrate Him. Lent is about strengthening good things in our lives, and removing things that hinder us.
Have you started on a Lenten journey yet? Did you start one and fail miserably at the beginning? Don’t give up, don’t quit. Remember we are going to be courageous this Lent. So, get back up and start again. As I edit this, it’s Laetare Sunday – a Sunday of joy in the midst of Lent, we’re halfway there. Hopefully we’ve begun to develop some better habits than we started with.
Do you need someone to help you get back up and start again? Find a pastor or a priest. Even pastors whose denominations don’t officially celebrate the Lenten season will be happy to talk to you about becoming more like Jesus!
It’s not what you call the season, it’s how He’s calling your heart and how you respond to that call. Even if you don’t get started until this posts, you’ll still have at least a couple of weeks to begin making some changes. Go for it! Give yourself a chance to really celebrate at Easter!