Sunday, February 19, 2017

Longing for Lent: Marked by the Cross on Ash Wednesday


By the sweat of your brow
    you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
    since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
    and to dust you will return.”
            -Genesis 3:19
Ash Wednesday falls on March 1 this year. It marks the beginning of Lent, that forty plus days set aside by the church for nearly two millennia as a time to dedicate ourselves afresh to God.
If you have never been to an Ash Wednesday service, it is a powerful experience. Each person goes forward to receive the sign of the cross in black ashes on his or her forehead. Young and old, men and women, clergy and lay, all receive the ashes. We all stand on level ground before the foot of the cross and the realization of our mortality.
Often the words of Genesis 3:19 are spoken as we receive the ashes. It is quite sobering! I have come from the dust and ashes of the ground, and in due time I will return.
Such a stark reality begs the question: How am I living my days here on earth? Am I telling those around me just how much I love them? Am I pursuing the Lord with my whole heart? How do I need to number my days? What needs to change in my life? Psalm 90:3, 12 states:
You turn people back to dust,
    saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.”
. . .
Teach us to number our days,
    that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Ash Wednesday is a tremendous teaching tool. As we hear those words and have ash smeared on our foreheads, it is humbling, it is instructive. It brings a renewed sobriety that sets the stage for Lent. If you have never participated in Ash Wednesday or Lent, I encourage you to do so. I welcome you to a wonderful encounter with the Almighty.
This year I am longing for Lent more than I can ever remember. I cannot wait for this season of seeking God to begin in earnest. I want the Lord to search me and try me, removing any wrong way—and lukewarm way—in my life. In the depths of my soul, I am aching for Ash Wednesday to usher in this powerful season of Lent. I am yearning for God to bring fresh transformation to my life!

© 2016 Glenn E. Myers

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