Browsing Facebook today, I noticed a note by my mother, Vickie Hieb, about Ash Wednesday (which was yesterday) and the beginning of Lent. As I read the note, my heart resinated with her passion and hope at what Christ Jesus did on the Cross.
I pray that you will be blessed with her words as I was blessed.
Are You Covered In Ashes? by Vickie Hieb
Today is Ash Wednesday. People throughout history and still during our time, use ashes to show their sorrow, grief, despair, sins, depression and fears. This is the beginning of Lent, the preparation for the coming of the One who would be the final sacrifice. Job lost his family, his belongings and became ill, he forgot the blessings that he had before and deep in his sorrow he covered himself with ashes, he cried out, ‘Why was I ever born? All I ever get is trouble. I have no peace!’ But God came down to him and talked with him, until at the end Job said, ‘My ears had heard of You, God, but now my eyes have seen You! Now, I will despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.’ His ashes went from despair to repentance!
How many times, do we continue to cover ourselves with ashes? ‘I can’t do anything right! That was so stupid! We’re always so poor! I’m so alone! I don’t have anyone! I miss my loved one! Nothing will ever be the same! No one in my family can do that or get ahead. I’m just a loser! Why? Why? Why! Don’t let this depression take me down again! There’s no use living! They’d be better off without me!’ How long will we grieve in the ashes of life?
Yes, there is a time to grieve and to sorrow over things and loved ones we’ve lost, and over injustice and the condition of our world which seems to be getting crazier by the day, but we don’t have to be overwhelmed and lost down in that despair and give up hope!
God says that He has a hope for us! When Jesus came and began to talk to the people, he said, ‘God has anointed me to bring good news!’ What is that good news?
He was quoting Isaiah 61, ‘The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives, and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God!’
Do you need a broken heart to be mended? Do you need freedom from wrong choices and addictions? Do you need releasing from the darkness of depression,sickness and no hope? Would you like to see the enemy of self-doubt and despair and injustice in your life be avenged by God?
Keep reading! It continues by saying, ‘to comfort ALL who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion, to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes! the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair!
Turn your ashes of mourning into repentance and receive the sacrifice that Jesus provided us by His suffering. This means accepting it and thanking God every day for that offering. In Christ Jesus there is forgiveness of sins, Romans 8 tells us that when we are in Christ Jesus, there is no condemnation because we have been set free from sin and death. This is good news! We are free!
And to those who believed before but keep getting weighed down by the demands of life, in Galatians 3:3 it says, ‘Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?’ and in chapter 5, ‘It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, do not let yourself be burdened again by a yoke of bondage!
In the story of Job, it tells us that the Lord prospered him and restored his life to him, then his brothers, sisters and neighbors who had known him before, came and ate and rejoiced with him! Continuing in Isaiah 61 it says ‘I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me in a robe of righteousness!’ He has loved us and accepted us, not by anything we could do, but because we believed and acknowledged Him.
‘The ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them and sorrow and sighing will flee away!’ Isaiah 35:10
May the Lord bless you! and keep you! May the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you! May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace! Amen!