Today is Ash Wednesday which marks the beginning of the 40-day period in the church calendar known as Lent, a time of preparation leading up to Holy Week and Resurrection Sunday. Around the world, countless Christians will have the sign of the cross written on their foreheads in ash—what is known as the imposition of ashes – and will hear the words, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you will return.” In my part of the world, Lent is marked with fast food restaurants offering an updated version of their fish sandwich and box stores put out their Easter decorations. Are we really mindful of our humanity? In Genesis 3:19 we are reminded: By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Later we read the words of Job in his time of suffering: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised” (Job 1:21). Throughout Scripture we are called to be mindful of how short our life is, so one would think we would be more conscience of our actions leading to our mortality.
As I read through the headlines I come across articles today calling our military to be mindful of poppy seeds https://www.yahoo.com/news/pentagon-warns-poppy-seeds-might-113912098.html, the President in Poland, the lack of concern by the government for the folks in Ohio, and Don Lemon’s return to CNN. All stories that point to how quickly things can change for an individual, a group of people, a nation or our world, but no real mention of how to prepare for these sudden changes in life that force us to contemplate our mortality.
Psalm 103:14-16 reminds us: For he knows we are but dust and that our days are few and brief, like grass, like flowers, blown by the wind and gone forever. James comes along later to again remind us: What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes (James 4:14). With all of this around us, why does this time of the year bring to mind fish sandwiches and all the New Year resolutions we broke a few weeks ago? I think the author of Hebrews nails it: But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone (Hebrews 2:9). The humbling part of this season isn’t so much reflecting on my physical humanity, but my sinful condition. Jesus’ finished work on the cross, given to me by grace and mercy, allows me to place my assured hope in Heaven when I leave this Earth. Because of this, at times, my sinful humanity causes me to take this truth for granted and live out my own desires and not that of my Savior. Knowing all along that my sins are forgiven, but my life does not reflect this gratitude.
No matter how you celebrate the next 40 days of Lent and the coming of Easter Sunday our actions tell on us every day of the year. If anything, Ash Wednesday causes me to be more shamefully aware that I don’t think about my limited time as I should. This season, let us speak as those who know we have a Home in Glory because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, but more so through our actions. Let us have a behavior that is mindful of our humanity, but a physical death we do not fear because of what has been accomplished by our Savior. Something we should never take for granted.
We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 1:3
Serving the Savior,
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