Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lent season which leads to Easter. In some religions ashes will be received as a mark on the forehead today. In this episode I will guide you in a deeper understanding of this tradition so that whether you receive ashes today or not, may you receive the grace it represents.
Ash is the remains of something that has burned. Something that was ruined. Something that was and now ceases to be. When God created human beings in his likeness, he created us for paradise. He had an image of the life we could have with him, and that life was perfection. But because of our free-will, that was ruined.
Genesis 2:7 “The LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”
Then that man sinned and did the one thing God told him not to do. Of course, he and Eve were tricked by the snake in the garden and ate the apple. Because of this sin, life went from paradise to hard.
Genesis 3: 17-19 “God told the Man: “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from, the very ground is cursed because of you; getting food from the ground will be as painful as having babies is for your wife; you’ll be working in pain all your life long. The ground will sprout thorns and weeds, you’ll get your food the hard way; Planting and tilling and harvesting, sweating in the fields from dawn to dusk. Until you return to that ground yourself, dead and buried; you started out as dirt, you’ll end up dirt.”
It’s the great dichotomy of life … the life God envisioned for us in paradise, versus the life we are living in a fallen world.
But, this isn’t the end of the story. God doesn’t just leave us in the ashes with a ruined life. He doesn’t turn his back on you because you’ve messed this thing up my sister. Instead, he runs right toward you with the overwhelming offering of grace. Grace for your sin. Grace for your shortcomings. Grace for every failure. Grace for every act of delayed obedience. Grace for every time you tried so hard and still got it wrong, and grace for every time you honestly never even tried.
So here we are with the ashes of what could have been. Charred remains of burned up dreams and holy potential in paradise, met with the reality of real life here that is already hard, then we make it harder. God’s solution to our ashes is the grace offered to us through Christ Jesus.
Isaiah 61:3 the Lord gives us “beauty for ashes.”
And this is what the ashes of Ash Wednesday are here to represent. Our lives will have ashes. We will fail, and the world will fail us. There will be darkness and hard times. We’re all dying here folks, none of us get out of this alive. We’re on our way to returning to the dust we came from. We will battle the enemy who comes to kill, steal and destroy every good thing which has been offered to us. BUT GOD.
Oh yes, BUT GOD. BUT GOD came running at us with Jesus. Jesus came to set us free. Jesus came to redeem us. Jesus came to fill us with hope. And Jesus came to give us beauty for our ashes.
I’ve screwed up and God says, “here let me take that and give you beauty.” I’ve sinned and God says, “I know, and I chose you any way. Now let me have your ashes because I have a beautiful life for you still.”
This is where GRACE just comes and wraps you up honey. Grace you didn’t earn. Grace you could never buy. Grace you will never even understand.
I teach goals. I guide women in writing big, bold, powerful goals, breaking them down into daily action steps, then showing up and slaying those goals to step into the life they want. I teach them to track their goals every day and mark them as they go. Some days are those 100% days. Oh we love those days. Days we show up and do what we said we were going to do, and go to bed with every box checked and that good tired feeling.
But not all days are 100% days. Some days may be 35% days. Days we simply don’t feel like it, and our feelings win. Days we don’t do the things we know we need to do, so in exchange we go to bed with that weary tired feeling of knowing we screwed this thing up. Those days suck. You know what the suck … they suck the energy and joy right out of you. You stack up enough of those days and one day you wake up to a life you don’t like and a person in the mirror you don’t even recognize.
Oh it happens to all of us. Days of life where we’re not proud of how we lived. Days when we failed to show up and that lesser than version of us was on display.
So, what do you do when you had a day, week, month, or entire season of life like that? What do you do when you realize the truth is you simply stopped showing up and now you have a harsh reality to face?
You receive GRACE.
Yes, I encourage you to literally write GRACE over all the missed days. Over all the unchecked goals. Over all the time wasted and opportunities gone. GRACE.
What … you think God sent Jesus to cover only your big mistakes? You think he only came to save you from the stuff that would keep you out of Heaven? Girl, he came to cover it ALL. He came to offer you beauty for every single ash you have.
And when you receive grace like this, you certainly don’t want to waste it.
You understand the opportunity to wake up and live today when maybe you haven’t always woken up with a good attitude is GRACE, right?
You understand the opportunity to walk in health with a body you’ve neglected in the past is GRACE, right?
You understand the opportunity to get to try again when you failed to even try before is GRACE, right?
You understand the fact that the people you love are still here even though you’ve been taking them for granted is GRACE, right?
Let that grace get you today. Let it cover you. And let it change you.
This is how God gives us beauty for ashes. Grace makes you WANT to do better. Now sister, just do better.
That’s what Ash Wednesday is about. We recognize we’ve screwed this thing up, so we receive grace. And that grace will not be wasted on us. We will get better during this Lent season, and we will show up on Easter living more like the person God created us to be.