John 3:30 – “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.”
Today is Ash Wednesday. Now I preface this devotional with the truth on this matter … just a few short years ago I had no clue what Ash Wednesday was. Our family moved to El Paso Texas and there we were surrounded by the traditional Hispanic Catholic families. I’m talking about people who NEVER missed church … ever. And one day while in line to pick up our kids from school I was literally scared when I saw a woman with a smudge of black on her forehead. I immediately assumed it was a huge makeup fail in the worst ways, or some type of bizarre bruise, nearly resembling a cross. And then another woman with a similar mark. What in the world was happening here? Soon most of the moms at the school were marked in the same way and I was clearly the odd man out.
This was my introduction to Ash Wednesday. These women, who were Roman Catholic, had gone to services that day and had ashes rubbed on their foreheads.
To me it seemed such an unusual anointing. The dark smudge on the forehead is ashes in the shape of a cross as a mark of death. And with a little research I learned it’s not just a mark of death, but a mark of true life.
In Mathew 26 we read of a woman who pours expensive oils on Jesus’ head and then he says , “she did it to prepare me for burial.” Some around him didn’t understand and they ridicule the act. And so it is today with Ash Wednesday as many receive the cross of ashes on their forehead as a reminder of Christ’s preparation for death, many will not understand it … but let us embrace it, let us prepare our hearts for this special season of Lent.
Lent begins today and lasts until Easter Sunday. This is a season of death to self and growth in Christ. It’s typically symbolized by some sort of fasting whether it be saying adios to chocolate or coffee, or perhaps a social media or TV fast.
Let me ask you, how will you deny yourself for the next 40 days until Easter? Are you willing to cut the ties of the power “things” have in your life? Will you wage a war against your human desires and die to self? Will you be disciplined? Will you be devoted?
The important thing is to be obedient to Christ and follow through on your commitment of self-control. I’ve found as I am obedient, Christ is so faithful to fill me up in ways I never imagined. Let today be the beginning of a special journey for you. Say to God, Less of me … More of you.
John 3:30 says it perfectly – “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.”
Less of me with my bright ideas that fizzle quickly, and more of you God with your everlasting faithfulness. Less of me with a long line of failures, and more of you God who never, ever fails. And you never fail me. I can take that personally. You. Don’t. Fail. Me. I want more of YOU in my life God. And to make room for more of you, I’m clearing out space. I’m opening up my life so that you can come in and dwell in my days. Dwell in my mind. Reign in my heart.
Jesus is the answer for your dilemma. Your struggle with willpower, your battle with self-confidence, your strained relationship, your impossible situation, your overwhelming need, your frustration and your anger …. Jesus is the answer. Within him is the identity you seek. Within him is the power you need. Within him is the peace you lack. Within him the impossible is possible.
So today, we begin this Lent season. A time when we prepare our hearts for Easter. A season of death to self and growth in Christ. Many will wear ashes on the forehead today. Maybe you will and maybe you won’t. Regardless, remember what Ash Wednesday is. May we be willing to release our grip and dependency on anything that is holding us back from the full life Jesus bought for us. And as we create that space in our life with the absence of things, we invite God to invade these spaces, fill us up with more of him.
I don’t know about you, but this is the answer for most of my problems. My family needs me to have more Jesus in me, that’s the straight up truth. A little less Pamela and lot more Jesus. So it’s time to make room! That’s what Lent is for me and today is the beginning of that journey.