Today is Ash Wednesday…the first day of Lent. Through the years, Ash Wednesday has meant different things to me, depending on where I was in my life. I have memories of my friend, Angie, whose family was Catholic. Back then, Ash Wednesday was just another day that made me glad that I was Southern Baptist. Angie usually gave up candy and, lucky me, I kept right on munching, wondering why giving up candy would bring me closer to God.
When I was older, I stopped going to church. Ash Wednesday, Lent, Easter; these were just reminders of how far from God I felt. It was easier to ignore the fact that I wasn’t participating than to face the reality of what I was feeling.
When I returned to church, I gave up things for Lent and I went to services on Ash Wednesday. It always deeply moved me. It reminded me of my past, my guilt…and reminded me what was to come: Good Friday. The day we remember the crucifixion of Christ. To me the forty days of Lent were hauting…with a sense of the impending loss. Much like the disciples experienced on that day so many years ago.
The disciples mourned. They thought hope was gone. They thought the one that they followed had failed. They thought Christ was just another prophet and now that he had left them, they were afraid. They hid in fear.
As I have grown in my walk, my focus has shifted. I view Lent as a time to give up my self: my wants, my thoughts, my actions. I see it as an opportunity to spend more time in prayer, meditation…waiting for God to show me what he direction he wants me to go.
Paul said, “I die daily.” (I Corinthians 15:30) This year has been a year of dying to self. I wonder when I’ll get to the point that I can truly say, “I die daily.” Or to do as Christ commanded. “If any man would follow me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
As we enter this Lenten season, I pray that God will lead me. I pray that when he speaks, I will hear. And more importantly, I will obey.