We are taught to hide dirt. It begins innocently enough even as children. Haven’t you pushed stuff in the closet or under the bed when guests are coming over? Haven’t you dusted around the vase rather than move it? Have you ever only ironed the front of your shirt because you knew that your coat would cover the unironed back?
We’re pretty good covering up our dirt and keeping up appearances. We’re pretty good at hiding the more unsavory and unattractive aspects of our lives.. Our Christian living and walk can look really polished on the outside, but underneath that façade lies something altogether different.
I think about this often and find myself troubled by it. You see, as a pastor, I can get really good at walking the walk and talking the talk of the Christian faith and life. On the outside, I think I look pretty good but on the inside does anything really change? I wonder: Am I living more faithfully than I was last year, last month, last week? Do I desire real change in my life?
Sadly, I am too often comfortable with the façade and keeping the same old me, underneath.
I’d like to say that writing these devotions has made a huge difference in the way I look at my walk as a Christian–and I think it has! But I also know what a sinner I am and I know how lazy my sinful flesh is when it comes to loving and living God’s Word. Even when I feel on fire, it’s not hard to also find the soot and dirt of ashes in my life—the stain of sin. Wherever there is fire there will be ashes, too.
But tomorrow is Ash Wednesday. It’s an ancient day of repentance in the church, a day to reflect and morn the fact that we are sinners despite our best efforts. We’ll have to wait and see what the weather allows (winter storms are crazy) but like every year at the beginning of Lent, we’ll mark ourselves with ashes in an ancient ritual that has served as a way for Christians to signify their repentance and remind themselves that like Adam, from dust we are and to dust we shall return (Genesis 3:19).
However, the mark of ash we’ll put upon our foreheads is made in the shape of a cross. It’s a reminder that God has reached down from heaven and in mercy and grace given His Son to die for us. Though our sin brings death—and though our lives are marked and marred with the ashes of sin–God shapes us into His people and continues to fill us with His love.
This morning I invite you to close out this 30 days with some reflection on Psalm 51.
Yes, we’re pretty good at keeping up appearances. We’re pretty good at hiding the more unsavory and unattractive aspects of our lives. Our Christian living and walk can look really polished on the outside, and we can think that this is what the Christian life is all about—just hiding the dirt. It’s tempting to think that when we reveal, or feel, or know, or acknowledge our sin, then we are farthest from God. But, the truth is, we are the very people God wants to speak to. He is a God who wants to restore, forgive, console, and make alive. He is the God who gives purpose.
Thank you for joining me on this 30 days. I pray now that you also have a blessed 40 days of Lent as we draw closer to Good Friday and our Lord’s death on the cross and the joy of Easter beyond.
Pastor Aaron Kalbas
I encourage you to stay connected to the Lord and His purpose for you each day through prayer and devotions like these. But also stay connected to your church. Be there regularly and find ways to be involved. Join me at St. Paul during the season of Lent as we add another worship service to our weekly routine on Wednesday nights. These evening services are beautiful and I’ve always found them to be a perfect, peaceful way to prepare my heart to rejoice in the sacrificial death of my Savior and His triumphant resurrection.
Almighty and ever-living God, You make us both to will and to do those things that are good and acceptable in Your sight, even when we don’t always want to. Help me, Lord, to find joy in being Your child in the everyday moments of life. Thank You for the time You have given me to meditate and pray during these 30 days, and I pray, Lord, that You would continue to Guide and direct me according to Your holy will. Comfort me in all afflictions and temptations, defend me from all error, and lead me always into truth, that I may increase in all good works and be ever obedient to Your Word and obtain eternal life.
Today, Lord, grant Your favor over my plans and my purposes. Let every work begun, continued and ended be blessed not by my success and happiness, but blessed because I was enabled to glorify Jesus through all that I did.
In His name. Amen.
2 thoughts on “Day 30 (Ending in Ashes)”
Thank you Pastor for this wonderful journey of prayer and purpose. You have provided insight and thought. I will review my notes from time to time. I need to. GOD Bless.
Thank you for this very thought provoking devotional series. It was an excellent way to start the year in study and prayer seeking God’s purpose for our lives.