Ash Wednesday

It is Ash Wednesday, and my bones are aching with a flu.

One resource I was reading says, Ash Wednesday emphasizes a dual encounter: we confront our own mortality and confess our sin before God within the community of faith. The form and content of the service focus on the dual themes of sin and death in the light of God’s redeeming love in Jesus Christ.

It may be melodramatic, but it’s also very satisfying to be sick on this day for contemplation and reflection on mortality.

My reading for the day was Luke 18:9-14

[Jesus] told his next story to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people: “Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man. The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: ‘Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.’ “Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, ‘God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.’” Jesus commented, “This tax man, not the other, went home made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.”

I must confess that there have been times I have come into God’s presence to congratulate myself for being righteous.

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Lent 2017

Lent is coming up, and I’m looking forward to a 40 day break from Facebook because ten free minutes keep turning into an hour of scrolling that I wish I had spent somewhere else 🙂

Even more so than that, though, I’m looking forward to Lent because I’m looking for an excuse to focus my energies on connecting with God and with others, of taking time to pray and read and listen to my heart because it is all too easy to get caught up in the rush of life.

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Unrestrained Mercy

Remember 5 1/2 years ago when I was memorizing Psalm 40? Me neither… I knew it was ages ago but didn’t think it was SO long ago. Like pre-parenthood long ago. And the years keep flying by. I was reading Psalm 40 this morning during quiet time with God, and verse 11 echoed in my heart:

As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me.

I certainly don’t have this psalm memorized anymore, although it does give me a sense of familiarity when I read it. I remember the first time this verse struck me, the generosity of the language, the idea that God’s mercy can be restrained or poured out as he chooses, and the wonder of having this type of relationship where you know that God will not hold his mercy back.

I’ve been walking through a season of unrestrained mercy in a kind of brutal way these last few months. 2016 came to an end with heartbreak and tumult, and I felt like I had to re-learn every big lesson I’ve ever learned with God. But here at the start of a new year when I have made no resolutions, the simple things like spending quiet time with God feel like a life raft I keep forgetting about. Like, why am I treading water in the cold ocean of life?

Today I am grateful to know a God who invites me to sit at his feet and rest in his presence.