Followers of Jesus Christ all over the world are recognizing Ash Wednesday today. Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the season of Lent. Lent is the 46 days (40 days of fasting and 6 Sundays) that lead to the death and resurrection of Jesus. It’s a time of reflection and repentance. On Ash Wednesday, ashes are administered to people’s foreheads to remind them “from dust you came and to dust you shall return” Genesis 3:19. The ashes are a sign of repentance and humility. They represent our acknowledgement of our sin, frailty, and commitment to turn our faces towards God.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me” Psalm 51:10 (NRSV).
In this generation, we are a prideful people. We believe we can create profitable brands out of our images, lifestyles and families. We focus on what’s on the outside and neglect the condition of our hearts and minds. We are boastful and like to lift ourselves and our accomplishments up. Many of us don’t feel a need to repent because this society thrives on “Do what thou wilt.” Everything is right if it feels right in our culture. However, Ash Wednesday is reminder that we are dust. On our best day, we are nothing more than dust and it’s to the dust that we all will return. Our time is limited on this earth. No matter how much we work out, dye our hair, cut meat out of our diet and deny it, we are going to return to the earth as dust. We should focus on things that matter – eternal things. We should spend Lent in self-reflection. Are we doing what God put us on this planet to do? Are there attitudes, things, or people separating us from God?
“So teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart” Psalm 90:12 (NRSV).
We come from dust, but Ash Wednesday is also a reminder of what God can do with dust. From the dust, God created us and all we see and enjoy in our world. God can take the dust of our lives and shape it into something beautiful and useful. Take time to remember Ash Wednesday today. Teach it to your children. Teach them to sit with themselves and God. Teach them how to listen for God and how to allow the Holy Spirit to transform them. Whatever you do, don’t waste this opportunity to grow closer to the One who loves us most.