In New Orleans, and many cities across the country, Mardi Gras is celebrated this week. Fat Tuesday represents one last bit of revelry before Lent begins – a time known for prayer and fasting with a purpose of drawing closer to Christ. Some folks give up coffee or chocolate. Others give up news programs or media altogether. In the tuning out of specific worldly distractions, there is an opportunity to tune-in to Christ to a new level.
Lenten presence is an intentional effort by dads to tune-in to family to a new level. It could involve drawing the line more clearly between time at work and time at home – Getting home before dinner and not dealing with work-related calls or emails at home, being 100% present in family. Another idea is to schedule one-on-one time with each child once a week during Lent and/or dating your wife.
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He was hungry. Then the tempter approached Him … – Matthew 4:1-3a. Lent is to be a reflection of Jesus’ time in the wilderness. Fasting can take on a number of dimensions - food, technology or an activity. In general, if there is something you have come to depend upon, it may be worth considering giving up for Lent. Jesus’ example is one of giving up food during this fast but it is important to note that He also took something on – extended time focusing on His relationship with the Father. As seen in Matthew 4:4-11, that relationship was glorified as Jesus rebuked the devil’s temptations. A new level of focus on relationships in family over Lent can equip all to stand against the tempter’s schemes.
During their scheduled father-daughter one-on-one time, his daughter asked, “How do I know I will have a husband that will love me as much as you love Mommy?” Dad replied, “Because I pray for you every day - that you will meet the right young man, grounded in his Christian faith and growing in his walk with the Lord, that will love and care for you as Christ loves and cares for His Church.” The daughter said, “Cool!” and went back to eating her pizza. A dad’s Lenten presence helped him tune-in to his daughter’s concern.
Prayer guide: Lord, thank You for Your word and Your example. I have historically been religious about giving something up over Lent. I confess that I have even been prideful in speaking of my Lenten commitment. Forgive me. This year I do want to focus on establishing a new level of presence in family, in relationship with You, my wife and kids. My fasting will include taking this initiative on – spending daily time in prayer and scripture and dedicating one-on-one time with each child and my wife each week. Grant me strength to persevere and wisdom to listen well as the man, husband and father You call me to be, that the next generation needs to see. Amen.
A faithful father practices presence to a new level in family over Lent.