Feb 25, 2009

40 day journey: and so it begins... in ashes

Today is what is known as Ash Wednesday, the official beginning of the 40 day Lent season. It's a great way to enter into the story of Jesus' journey to the cross, culminating on Resurrection Sunday.

Even more so, though, it is a good excuse for you and I to "RETURN."

For some reason, we seem to be people who like a good excuse for good things like that.

As I shared before, Lent is intended to be more than a calendar event... it's a true journey of intentionality into the "wilderness" of our lives. This is the place that most of us don't want to live in... a place of sacrifice and simplicity. In many ways, a place of "death" where we die to ourselves in ways that our selfish side doesn't want to let go of.

This is why the season begins in ashes, allowing us to enter into mourning about the ripples of sin that is currently present in our world. The ashes address the the matter of physical death ("from ashes to ashes...") to the spiritual death we are all born into and have to allow God to do something about. While it can seem weird to some, dusting oneself with ashes isn't intended to cause us to live in guilt... rather, it can be a Christ-follower's way of expressing sorrow for sins and faults even from the past.

I want to challenge you and equip you to take part in this season. Whether you choose to honor this time in the traditional way or an atypical way, the bottom line for today is we should consider our brokenness apart from Jesus Christ and recognize again our need for a Savior.

So today I challenge you to do three things:
  • Consider this Scripture and what it means for your life today: Job 42:1-6
  • Decide if for 40 days you can sacrifice something in your life you're casually or completely attached to - maybe it's a vice or something more traditional like "meat on Fridays." In years past I've done 40 days drinking only water, or 40 days eating like a vegetarian (that was very hard), or 40 days without cheese. This round it's 40 days without the snooze button (that may sound tame to you, but for me that is quite a stretch).
  • A step further... you may want to do this with your household, too. Write down on a card any sins you wish to confess, and then burn the card. After it's cooled, touch the ashes and consider what Jesus truly does to our lives in taking on our sins and making them no more. Whether or not you choose to mark your forehead with the ashes, that reality alone is well worth the exercise.
I will be posting thoughts and challenges along these lines on this blog throughout the next 40 days, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (click on "40 Day Journey" to see the links all together - note that the older posts are at the bottom, so it may be helpful to start there, including backing up the page). I hope this all serves you during this time to reconnect with God and prepare ahead for a pretty amazing resurrection unlike any other.

1 comment:

The Momma said...

Great post!!