The vocabulary of Lent can be intimidating: Discipline. Obligation. Suffering. Repentance. It can easily become a restrictive season, inspiring us to focus on the sins that shackle us, rather than the sacrifice that released us. Perhaps, as we look at ways to love Lent, we should regard these weeks as a season of freedom.

Most importantly, there is the immediate freedom from sin and death, won for us by Jesus Christ in the final chapter of His earthly journey, which begins with His time in the desert. We are building to our Easter celebration of His ultimate victory, but there is also time during Lent to marvel at, and be grateful for, His endurance throughout the walk He took on our behalf.

The Lord also releases us from the burden of doubt, a burden that can become so heavy that it overwhelms every thought and slows every step. It is a burden we put on ourselves and, far too often, we are slow to release. But why should we struggle with this false weight? Thanks to His Lenten journey, we are fully certain we are loved, we are redeemed. Further, He empowers us to be bold and brave as we go forth in His Name.

And when we pick up doubt, fear usually wraps itself around us as well. But fear has no place in the heart or mind of a child of Christ. He went to hell and back to conquer death, and to show us there is nothing impossible for those who love Him. How can we dishonor Him by continuing to be afraid?

The shining example of Christ also gives us the freedom to love, without reservation or condition. He loves us completely, in spite of our brokenness or lack of commitment. To truly follow him, we should love in the same way, seeing each other with His eyes and lifting each other up in His Name.

As we walk beside Him, let us set aside our imagined burdens and celebrate our true freedom. Let us celebrate all that is possible because He loved us enough to die for us. Let us seek to secure that freedom for all God’s children.

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30