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Ashes & Dust

Updated: May 15, 2020

"... Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh? Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am. If you take away the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. Those from among you Shall build the old waste places; You shall raise up the foundations of many generations; And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In." ~ Isaiah 58:6-12 (NKJV)

"Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return" Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent, to many a season of sacrifice. It's amazing to me, of those who practice Lent, that so many think of it as a time of hardship.

What if it's all part of our refining, our pruning, the ways God strips away all of the nonsense we don't need to get to what is vital, critical, and brings us alive? Alive in Him?

I guess I should probably take a step back here. I realize not everyone observes Lent, but whether or not you do, it's a valuable thing to discuss.

Yes, Lent is largely about fasting and abstaining. It is a time when we as believers are asked to reform our humanness and turn our hearts toward the Savior.

Throughout the Lenten season, we are asked to give extra focus to the roles of prayer, fasting, and giving in our lives.

Through prayer, we open ourselves to the Creator of the universe, to the gift He can be in our lives and through our lives... if we let Him.

Fasting helps us to be filled by God rather than our earthly comforts. It nudges us, sometimes gently, sometimes with gusto, to look to the Father for every need.

And, giving reminds us that it's all His anyway, that He is our source, our provider, and helps us to trust Him for our every need.

When you really come down to it, Lent is a time of preparation for the resurrection. And, for those who believe in the Messiah, that He was Yeshua of Nazareth; for those who live and die (literally) by His Word and promises... preparing our hearts and minds for that glorious moment of eternal liberation seems like a pretty good idea, don't you think?

Okay, sure, if you come at Lent with your mind solely on having to live without caffeine and sugar (or whatever you chose) every single day of 40 days (less Sundays, of course)... Yeah, it's gonna seem like a slog.

But, if we use those choices and the season as a reminder to ever turn our eyes toward heaven? If we could really really do that... the possibility and potential leave me breathless with anticipation.

I'm not Catholic, though I had a wonderful grandmother and great grandmother who were both devoutly so. They taught me well, and that being the case, I still value what the saints have to teach us, no less than the Rabbis of the Talmud or other great teachers and role models of faith.

Mother Teresa, also known as "Blessed Teresa of Calcutta," once said... "As Lent is the time for greater love, listen to Jesus' thirst... 'Repent and believe' Jesus tells us. What are we to repent? Our indifference, our hardness of heart. What are we to believe? Jesus thirsts even now, in your heart and in the poor -- He knows your weakness. He wants only your love, wants only the chance to love you."

What if we took Him up on that? How sweet to be embraced and well loved by the Creator of the universe, the One who gave it all?

I pray that in this Lenten season, we would all bear our hearts to Him, that we would lay it at His feet, receive His love and forgiveness, and turn that same love, forgiveness, grace, and mercy loose on the world. May we grow in prayer, in our minor sacrifices looking ever to the ultimate sacrifice, and may our gifts of time, talents, and resources serve to shine Your Light in the world. Amen.

"Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." ~ Ephesians 4:31-32 (NIV)

"You, Lord, are all I have, and You give me all I need; my future is in Your Hands. How wonderful are Your gifts to me; how good they are! I praise the Lord, because He guides me, and in the night my conscience warns me. I am always aware of the Lord's presence; He is near, and nothing can shake me. And so I am thankful and glad, and I feel completely secure, because you protect me... You will show me the path that leads to life; Your presence fills me with joy and brings me pleasure forever.'" ~ Psalms 16:11 (GNT - excerpts)

"Give thanks in everything, for this is the will of God toward you in Christ Jesus." ~ Thessalonians 5:18 (BLB)

May the Good Lord bless you and keep you, friends... always, in all ways. Amen.

Bonus song of praise.

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