My first lent + John 12:24-25a Bible Coloring Page

Bible printable coloring page
I'm turning 39 (wow!) this Saturday and yet it's my very first time observing the season of Lent. I grew up in a Baptist-ish tradition. My dad was a Southern Baptist pastor who joined the Navy as a chaplain. We attended some Southern Baptist churches growing up, but because we were often part of military chapels, my upbringing was rather ecumenical: "The hanging of the greens," advent candles, stations of the cross, dunkings, sprinklings, wafers, and loaves of bread--a denominational potluck. I even got to be in a Gospel choir at one chapel (and never could quite sway in the right rhythm).

But somehow Lent, and most of the traditions of the church calendar, never seemed important to me. Although my church now is by no means traditional, in recent years we've come to see the value of orienting our year around the rhythms of some of the church calendar.  Even as a mother, I know the power of simple routines and daily rhythms in the lives of my children (just visit our home when the children and I have missed our daily rest time!).

We have been observing the Advent season the last few years, and now this year, we're preparing for Easter with a season of Lent. If Lent is new to you too, it's a tradition of observing a season of repentance, prayer, and fasting in the 40 days (not counting the Sundays) from Ash Wednesday to resurrection Sunday.

What better preparation for celebrating God's grace poured out than to first take a look at the "sin that so easily entangles" that necessitates that grace in the first place (Hebrews 12:1)? 

As a church, we have been asking ourselves what God would have us to die to, so that we can experience more of the treasure that is Jesus and the life that He offers.
"Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ" (Philippians 3:8 ESV)
I won't share here what I'm "giving up" for Lent, but I will share the questions I have been asking myself that led to those choices: 
  • What do I reach for when I feel needy?
  • What fills my mind and keeps me from being self-controlled, sober-minded, and prayerful? (See 1 Peter 4:7)
  • What keeps me out of the Word? What am I "eating" instead of the "words of life" from the "bread of life" (John 6:35; John 6:68)?
  • What gives me a little boost of joy, but is short-lived, causing me to have to go back for more. (For example: checking the mirror, social media scrolling, eating, shopping, gossipping, boasting in myself, controlling my environment, working for the attention of others, planning my future.)
  • What motivates my reaching for these things? Am I looking to feel important? Distracted? Validated? Entertained? How am I trying to fill a need that only Jesus can fill?
My pastor posed the question this way: where in my life is the most chaos and brokenness? That is likely an area where dying needs to happen.
We desperately need to hear from God about these matters. Only the Holy Spirit, through the Word of God, can peel back the complicated layers of our thoughts and intentions.
"For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12 ESV)
There is a principle at work in the Scriptures and seen in our Savior's life: there is no life without a dying. To have the life God intends for me, something in me must die. 
"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life." (John 12:24-25 ESV)
Any season can be a season of dying and resurrection, but sometimes it helps to have something, like Lent, on the calendar to remind our idol-prone hearts. I know I have needed it.

Whether you observe Lent this season or not, I know that Jesus longs to give you abundant life, but it first requires you to be willing to follow Him into death. I'm praying you would let Him lead you there today.

Jesus has gone before you. He is trustworthy, and His grace makes following Him possible.

And that's good news!

Today's printable Bible verse coloring page is from John 12:24-25a. You can download your page HERE or by clicking on the image below.*

Bible coloring page

PRAYING the Word
Jesus, without even realizing it, I am entangled again in sin. I have run after things that are rubbish compared to the surpassing worth of knowing You. Give me a heart that knows that true value of things, and a distaste for the empty things the world offers. Show me the things in me that need to die. May I have confidence in your great mercy and hope in your steadfast love. Prepare my heart to celebrate the resurrection this year.

*I'm so happy for you to enjoy my coloring pages and printables for your personal (not commercial) use! Use for Bible studies, church groups or events, and Sunday school classes are all fine! If you're in doubt, I'm happy to answer any questions. All artwork and photos are copyright Marydean Draws. If you share this, you're awesome (!), and as a courtesy,  please link back to this post and not the PDF file. Thank you!!

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