As I woke up today, I realized that it was Ash Wednesday. The first day of Lent has arrived! On my blog Monday, I talked about what Lent means to me, and Ash Wednesday has just confirmed it for me. As I go to church today, I will be covered with ashes on my forehead with these words spoken aloud, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (from Genesis 3:19)
For my family, Ash Wednesday is a day of fasting. We eat two small meals and one regular meal, with no snacks in between. Over the years, I have struggled with just what does all this fasting mean to me? It is one of those concepts that as the “rule-follower” that I am, I have just followed through with the motions, but not really thought about what I am doing and what it should mean to me. Besides it being dreadful that I cannot have a snack during the day, I couldn’t quite figure out what it all meant. You see, I love food. I love to eat and I tend to eat little bits all day. So the thought of structuring out 2 small meals and 1 regular meal sounds horrible to me. This past year though, something clicked inside of me. You know the light bulb in my head went on! I realized that when I fast, I rely on God more. I usually become irritable and my emotions run high on fasting days. I am uncomfortable from the pains of hunger. Because of this (in order to stay sane on these days), I find myself in prayer to God. It is almost like a self-induced struggle. It reminds me that I need God in my life. Because I am “dust” without God. And without God, I will return to “dust.”
When I ask God to be part of my struggle – to give me strength and perseverance, then with His help, I can do amazing things even through my turmoil. As the ultimate gift, He promises me eternal life with Him.
So when those words are proclaimed aloud today, I am hopeful. I can see the importance of God in my life. It reminds me of that first sunny, warm day of Spring. The day that you just want to go bask in the sunshine. The warmth of the sun just radiates throughout your body. You have longed for that moment all winter long. I usually just close my eyes and let the sun move through every part of my body, warming me from my head to my toes. That is exactly how I am going to look at my day of fasting. Yes, it is hard. Yes, it is painful. But feeling God’s presence radiate through to my soul will be warm and inviting.
The last message on Ash Wednesday will include this beautiful verse from Mark 1:15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” This Lent try to turn away from sin. Make room for God daily!
*For this 40 days of Lent, I will have a small devotional based on scripture for you to reflect on. This Lent take some time to add in scripture daily to become closer to Christ!