Getting Real About Life, about Love, and about God

Friday, February 20, 2015

Lenten Reflection 1: From Ashes to Beauty

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,   
because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.

They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.

                                                             Isaiah 61:1-3
Lent is a season that begins with Ash Wednesday and runs until Easter Sunday.  It is a a time of reflection, deep devotion, self denial, and pursuing a deeper more intimate relationship with God.  It begins with ashes and recognizing our weakness, our limitations, our vulnerabilities and ultimately our need for God. It ends with celebration, victory, power, and reconciliation.  Jesus overcomes sin.  Jesus overcomes death.  Jesus transforms death into life.  
The season of Lent offers us the opportunity to go on a journey of transformation with Jesus.  To go on a journey from the dry "ashy" places of our lives to discover the power and victory that we have in Christ.  Lent offers us the opportunity to give up our ashes for Christ beauty. We all have are ashes don't we?  
Ashes could be seen as a metaphor for the dry, empty, dark places in our life.  Ashes are those things that we hold unto instead of Christ.  Ashes are things like guilt, pain, shame, hurt and other emotional weights that we carry with us daily.  Ashes are things like bad habits, addictions, and desires that drain us of life and leave us empty.  
Lent offers you and me opportunity to have God transform those ashes to beauty.  To turn our mourning to joy and our despair into praise.
That is what God does he transforms our lives.  He makes all things knew.  His desire is that we do life with him and that we know the power of His love and experience Him in our lives.
However, we need to come to him and we need to offer him our "ashes" if we want to experience his power and transformation.  We have to go through the ashes and surrender them to him so that he can make them beautiful.
This is the invitation that is for each of us in lent.  It is not magic- give up chocolate, or social media and get the victory.   It is is surrendering the ashes of our lives to Jesus  and finding rest in him.   It is  about going on a forty day journey with Jesus.  A journey from ashes to beauty...that goes through the cross and the resurrection and has no end.
I hope that you will join Jesus on the journey.
I will be sharing my journey here and would love to hear from you as you journey.
In Christ's love and mine,
Doug

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