Church doors open all around the world for “the imposition of ashes” — Ash Wednesday. It begins the season of Lent. 40 days plus a few Sundays — ending with Easter Sunday.
I felt the imposition of it today — that uncomfortable weight of the burden of my sin. My attitude needed an adjustment and there was no hiding it. It was smeared all over my countenance before the ashes ever were.
And it’s real — the imposition is intruding. The word of God comes alive and cuts through my crap …my pretense …my selfishness …my idols of comfort and control.
Ashes are often mentioned in the Bible as a symbol of repentance. This symbol imposed on your forehead literally brings reality to the fore-front of your mind.
“…for dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:19 NIV)
I was keenly aware of my human dust today.
We sang “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” …
“My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride…
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!…
See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?…
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.”
I left there with a cross smeared for all to see of the mercy that has been poured out on me by the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. His death so I could live.
I’m not wallowing in my ash heap of a bad attitude and sinful heart but I’m keeping it in perspective to remind me just how much my Father loves me and what He did for me in sending His only Son, Jesus Christ, to cover the mess sin had smeared all over me.
Lent begins with a humble surrender. God is God and I am not. Jesus is the Savior and Messiah. I am not. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. Depending on myself is slavery.
Today I don’t wallow. I worship.
I ask the Spirit to bring to mind the things in me that need repair. Turning my eyes to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of my faith.
One of my favorite lines from a new devotional app, Lectio 365, has become a regular prayer of mine, ” …re-center my scattered senses upon the presence of God.”
As we begin this season of Lent, join me in asking the Spirit to “re-center (our) scattered senses upon the presence of God.” Listen as He lovingly whispers truth in our inner being. Allow the Light to shine in those areas we’ve been trying to hold on to that have become dead weight.
Let’s begin again.
Here’s a good start with today’s prayer from Lectio 365…“Father God, Your presence, Your voice and Your will are more important to me than my own comfort. As I prepare to remember Good Friday, endure the silence of Saturday and celebrate Easter Sunday in coming weeks, would You prepare my heart, mind, body and soul. Search me, test me and shape me into the likeness of Your Son.” ( from Lectio 365 Devotional, February 26, 2020)
Great questions for reflection from Shaun Groves, “Lent*Day 1”
• Am I depending upon anyone or anything other than God for provision or protection?
• What does my life announce to others about the goodness and trustworthiness of God?
More resources to guide you through Lent:
Lectio 365 App (Daily Devotional)
Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent & Easter
Special thanks to my dear friend, Cora Suggs, for walking with me through Ash Wednesday today and the gracious hospitality of the friends at the First United Methodist Church, Huntsville, Alabama– who welcomed us all to the table today.