I wash my hands a lot! I’m getting better but it’s almost as if I feel the need to cleanse myself after “whatever it was” I was doing and prepare myself for the “whatever it is” I’m going to do next. Cleanse from any contaminants…filth. Wash the dirt. Preparing to arrive at the next activity in the day –clean. Pure. Presentable. Free of any germ.
Then Ann Voskamp writes about how Lent and Valentines Day collide and little do any of us know that before the sun sets on that first day of Lent/Valentines’s Day, there’ll be another cosmic collision– only this time with deep pain and suffering and ultimately — tragic loss of lives.
This unforgettable day — February 14, 2018 — arrives with sweethearts sharing heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, cards affirming undying love, and bouquets of flowers being delivered in abundance.
And the Season of Lent arrives on the same calendar day with crosses smeared on foreheads as the sobering words are spoken — “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
And who knew that more crosses would be lined up in a once-calm town in Florida with flowers and cards now marking a memorial to loved ones lost in a tragic, horrific school shooting.
And I realize I want to wash this stain from the face of the earth but there’s no way to wash your hands of all of that. No amount of soap, hand sanitizer or bleach will erase this. It’s impossible to wash this from our memories and forget it ever happened. Cleansing from one and preparing for the next move forward doesn’t even seem attainable. This stain is too great, too embedded.
My heart breaks for the mamas and daddies whose children aren’t coming home from school and throwing their backpack on the kitchen table anymore. I ache for the brothers and sisters who miss their sibling as they pass by their room or place at the table.
And I ache for my own mess that seems to stain everything around me. I ache for mankind in remembering that we all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. I’m too embarrassed to hang my own rags on the line because they are as filthy as they can be. No detergent can penetrate and lift that stain.
But God …
flung my dirty, filthy rags on the cross with His only son…His blood running down over all my stains and lifting them on Himself to dry as He died to save me from the mess of it all. As we enter into the Lenten Season, I remember this. I remember my filth and my desperate need for the cleansing blood of the Lamb of God.
I’m broken in remembrance and moved to repentance. How a loving, righteous God could even begin to love me is hard to imagine. It almost seems unattainable. But He offers such sweet forgiveness and hangs up that “Welcome Home” sign we all long to see and holds out His arms for all of us to fall into His loving embrace.
My heart begins to be renewed and remade with a new coat of righteousness. My identity is forever changed. I am His and He is mine. We’re family with all rights included.
A friend told me I needed a reset button. These things I remember during these 40 + days of Lent and I embrace the season to remember …repent …renew …RESET !
But the ache of February 14th is still burning in my mind with the faces of those precious lives who were lost and the other one– who lost his way and in some twisted, broken moment, tried to control some part of his life by taking the lives of others. God’s heart must be broken too.
I still can’t wipe this slate clean and wash my hands of it all. I can only trust the hand of God to come and help us …to come and comfort us …to hold these families in His arms as they writhe in pain and grief. I would love to know what to do –laws, community actions, mental health advocacy –to make sure this never happens again.
But God …
will show me the next step. He’ll show you the next step. He’ll guide our feet as He heals our hearts. He sees us. He has not forgotten one single person. I don’t understand. I don’t have the answers. I’m just leaning into His arms in this season and listening for His voice …learning from His heart …watching for Him to act.
To Remember …Repent …Renew …Reset is only possible through the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The events of last week still hold my attention. There’s expectation God has something very significant to show us this season. I’m clinging to the cross of Jesus and His power to redeem all things.
Listen. Lean in. Hold on to Jesus and each other. This is our only hope.
May God “bind up the brokenhearted …comfort all who mourn …provide for those who grieve…” and may He “bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes...”
(From Isaiah 61 NIV)