being : Red Letter Challenge

Ashes. In my every day, ordinary, walking around life, ashes do not factor prominently. They are the occasional left overs from a fire pit night or the remainder of a adventure in grilling. They are mostly just a mess I scoop up and discard.

And then there is Lent, that forty day wandering in the wilderness where I am called to remember Jesus and my own mortality and my sinfulness. Someone speaks over me, “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.” Dust. Ash. The leftovers of life. The mess at the end of it all. This is what I am. This is what I have always been. Dust. Ash. A mess.

I really do not need much of a reminder this is who I am. I am broken. I am flawed. On my best days, I still speak harshly to those I love, I continue to think more of myself that I should, and I ignore the many ways I am called to love. I will not argue with you. I am dust. I am ash. I am a mess.

So, I crave Lent. Yes, even this year which feels in many ways like the start of a season which never ended. (It is the strangest sensation to know a year has passed since the pandemic really hit home in my life and to also feel like it just started.) I crave it because Lent says, “Consider who you are. Consider who you could be.”

There it is, the heart of Lent. God inviting me to discover it is my being which shapes my doing. i can try to do all sorts of things to convince myself I am not dust, but if I look closely, every action bears the mark of ashes.

fortunately, as Gungor sings, “God makes beautiful things out of the dust.” The challenge is for me to be with God so that God can do the making of beautiful things. Even in this, God knows who I am and that I will make every effort to screw it up.

As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
    he remembers that we are dust. (Psalm 103:13-14)

Oh God, thank you for being patient with me, your child of dust. I’m trying (probably in every sense of the word).

So here I begin the Red Letter Challenge and today’s invitation is to hear Jesus remind us we are not meant to do this life on our own. No, we are meant to focus on being with Christ and letting Him help us find rest. (Matthew 11:28)

Friends, will you join my in letting our being precede our doing? Will you come alongside me and nudge me back onto the path when I stumble into the places it is easy to get lost striving and accomplishing and performing? Will you do it with me and let me do it with you? The more Lenten experiences I have, the more I believe we piles of dust and ash need to stick together. I may even go so far as to claim the compassion God has for us is that God draws us to “be” together.

Life is better together,
Shawn

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