It is now less than 40 days until Easter. The day that starts the season of Lent is called Ash Wednesday, which happened this past week. A cross of ashes dusted the foreheads of Christian believers all over the world to commemorate the beginning of the season. Why ashes? In the biblical times, people like Job, Mordecai and Tamar sat in ashes to grieve, lament and/or repent. This practice could also symbolize a cleansed and renewed spirit. When someone had identified their mess and faced their issues, or in other words ashes; they had the opportunity to start anew. During the next 6 weeks, people of faith will spend time meditating; praying and reflecting on the power of Christ’s death and resurrection to rise out of the ashes in our lives.
In this season of reflection, it occurred to me that I want to participate in both the giving up of something and in changing a behavior. A text that helps me to come to a place of repentance and humility is Psalm 51, which begins with; “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.” Sitting in a posture of prayer, I clench my fists filled with all of the hurts, pain, insecurities, and doubts that my soul aches to release. The Spirit of God’s mercy and forgiveness reaches down and opens my hands to drop all of my issues and concerns at the feet of the cross. By releasing my weaknesses, my spirit and my heart, mind and soul, can now make room for the glory of God’s love. My hands now are open and ready to accept the gift of salvation that prepares my heart for the Fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Again Psalm 51 says it perfectly: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.”
Even though the ashes on our foreheads have been washed away, we can still remember their significance throughout this season and the next. Many times each day we may find ourselves covered in ashes and in need of the cross and the resurrection for another chance to begin again. It is my prayer that when I sit in the ashes of repentance, that I can rise up, cleansed and renewed by the risen Savior. Come Lord Jesus..