Then Job answered the Lord and said:“I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
‘Hear, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you;
therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes.” Job 41:1-6
The tradition of having ashes placed on the forehead on Ash Wednesday goes back a long way. Today it has become more of a habit. It is one of those outward things done to indicate repentance and humility. Repentance is a big part of the salvation process and the only thing WE can do to show our dedication to our LORD. God wants us to confess our sins and then repent of them. From there we should continue living knowing that our sins are forgiven. Maybe, like promises we make in other areas of our lives, we soon forget and they are all too soon broken.
When we give things up for Lent, it’s almost like making New Year’s resolutions. We try hard at first, but often slip back to our old ways and find ourselves back at square one . . . AGAIN. Our God is so merciful, that He continues to hear our prayers for forgiveness, even though the process of our salvation has already been paid for through Christ’s death and resurrection. So, is it wrong to try and give things up for Lent? It is a way for us to go and sin no more, or at least try to. Our sinful nature will continue to live within us until we die, but if we sincerely repent, God will forgive US over and over . . . AGAIN! His love endures forever.
My wife was agitated on Ash Wednesday. These celebrities that seem to not live according to God’s Word were parading on TV with ashes on their forehead. I understand her frustration. Jesus said to fast in private with no one knowing, and those that parade have already gotten their reward. And they seem to be saying, I am Catholic, but I will not live by their rules. I understand her. She is ex-Catholic and she has lived the frustration of the Lenten season that you describe. But I took it a little different. The ashes make a statement that making the statement would get you fired in present day Hollywood. But I have a foolproof Lenten fast – to give up dieting. Now that I think I can be true to.
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Kathy, blessings to you and Paul. My own Lenten journey encourages me to stay focused on God’s Word. With immersion in Scripture, I’m reminded daily of His grace.
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