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An Ash Wednesday meditation

March 9, 2011
And now for something totally different.
One great thing about Lent is that it comes around every year. Every year, I’m again given the chance to examine my faith and my relationship to Christ. It seems as though I shouldn’t need the opportunity every year to become the child of God that I know I should be. But in some things (many things!), I’m a slow learner.

I’m one of the reasons God is infinitely patient. If I’m attributing human characteristics to him, I can just imagine him sitting up in heaven, sighing over my inability to see what’s right in front of my face. There are times when I’ve almost felt him give me a slap upside the head to knock me out of my hard-headedness. Often, Lent is one of those  slaps, to continue the slightly inappropriate analogy.

Lent is more than just another chance to try again on our New Year’s resolutions. We can give up smoking or chocolate or cussing or any of a myriad of things, and not have it mean a thing to our faith life. God doesn’t call us to give up things for the sake of giving them up; he calls us to do things prayerfully, for a better purpose, to change our lives and bring us closer to him. Our Lenten efforts should bear fruit that lasts beyond the 40 days.

There have been times in my life when I’ve had a blessedly rich prayer life, where my prayers have truly been dialogues. And there are times when I’ve been able to manage little more than repetitive pleading: “please, please, please,” or “thank you, thank you, thank you.” My soul has been closed so tightly that I could eke out nothing more than that. But my Lord, in his infinite goodness, knows what’s beyond my words and my thoughts. Eventually, the stuck door begins to open and my prayers grow to something more and something abundantly richer.

Lent is the call for more: more prayer, more almsgiving, more compassion.

“No guilt in life, no fear in death, this is the power of Christ in me;

from life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny.

No power of hell, no scheme of man, can ever pluck me from his hand;

till he returns or calls me home, here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.”

In Christ Alone – Keith Getty/Stuart Townend

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