Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ash Wednesday and Pepperidge Farm Cookies

Someone close to me recently confided their concern about an acquaintance whose frayed life had led to overindulgence in alcohol. For several days, my heart weighed heavy over the situation. How could it happen? How could she give herself over to substance abuse?

I read in Romans 2:2, “…you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself…”

It occurred to me that this woman who’d reached for a bottle to deal with her frayed life was not alone in her weakness. In dealing with a few of my own raw edges in recent months, I’d turned to something that left an eight-pound reminder around my midsection.
And as Beth Moore said  in one of the videos for Mercy Triumphs, "Some people ( or some situations) just make you want to eat something."
Even as I laughed, I knew it was no excuse.

So as Lent approached, I knew what I’d have to do.

Giving up sugary confections for forty days doesn’t even approach the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf, but it points us in the right direction. When I see the shelf in the pantry where the Pepperidge Farm Lexington cookies used to be, I’ll remember that Jesus bore my sins on the cross and give thanks. When I pass a Chick-fil-a without going through to get a small Ice Dream cone, I'll think about Jesus. When I see the jar in the den where the little Snicker squares used to be replaced by a wooden cross one of my children made years ago, I’ll realize once more the power his sacrifice.

Today, on Ash Wednesday, as I stare into the jaws of a dessert-less Lent, I’m reminded of something the Lord spoke to me a few weeks back.

I wandered my house for several days trying to find a place to do my daily Bible study . I needed a flat surface large enough to spread out and write in my workbook. My office wouldn’t do with all flat surfaces covered in books or my computer. I finally landed on the dining room table. And as I sat down, I heard a whisper in my spirit, “Taste and see that the Lord is good….” (Psalm 34:8).

Jesus is good and does not need to be sugarcoated.  

What I’ve found in the past when fasting, is that when we abstain from food, we find that even water has a delightful taste that we never notice when our diet was so full of other stuff. When we clear our lives in self-denial, we find the renewed sweetness of the Living Water.

Today on Ash Wednesday, God calls us, calls me to repent of reaching for something other than Him.

“But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—
our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.
We thought he brought it on himself,
that God was punishing him for his own failures.
But it was our sins that did that to him,
that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!
He took the punishment, and that made us whole.
Through his bruises we get healed” (Isaiah 53:3-5 The Message).

When I kneel tonight, and the ashes of last year’s palm Sunday fronds are imposed on my forehead, I’ll rise to face the weeks of self-denial ahead bearing the mark of the cross--the cross which reminds me that He came for all our frayed places and raw edges.


A Memorial for Ash Wednesday

A song for Lent- By His Wounds

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