A Lenten Devotional Ashes and Dirt, and a Fresh New Focus

  • Mike McCurry
  • 03/1/17
“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”.
If you have ever watched your own children kneel and receive the ashes smeared on their foreheads in a form of a cross, it’s a humbling sight. The realization of knowing that my own destiny on earth, and those who I love, are going to eventually be part of its dirt, helps me to be more centered and focused on important things. The journey of Lent began yesterday with Ash Wednesday, and will end the Thursday before Good Friday and Easter, a little over 40 days later.
For many of us, it actually began with Fat Tuesday.
Since the Lenten season is about self-denial, prayer, repentance, and aligning oneself with God’s direction, the (almost out of control) ramp up on excesses of food, drink and indulgence culminates in a need to hit the reset button. Admittedly, I oftentimes need this hard stop of life’s luxuries to help me get back into perspective with God’s plan for my life.
I not alone, am I?
I know a few people (one very close to me) who are very disciplined with their consumption habits. Their weight doesn’t fluctuate more than 2 to 3 pounds during the year. They take what they need, and leave the rest behind – on the plate.
I’m not like that.
Consuming a lot is a hard habit to break. In my earlier years, and being a former football player, I needed to consume a lot of food as part of my training. Eating a lot became almost burdensome to me. I don’t think I ate as much as Houston Texans All Pro defensive end JJ Watts, who reportedly eats between 6000 and 9000 calories a day, but I might have been close to it. Like me, it will be hard for him when he’s finished with football.
Lent is not about dieting.
But through a slowing down and examining ones consumption habits, it might expose our need to fill the empty void or a somewhat narcissistic focus on the most important and false gods in our lives: ourselves. By this time of year, I’ve usually gone off the rails, and I’m looking forward to getting back on track, and to return to God with a fresh new focus.
Maybe Lent is about second chances.
Every year, we get this season to reflect on where we’ve been, and to examine if our values and priorities actually match up to what God’s has in store for us. It’s the re-set button that we’re longing to have. Lent is a six-week journey to take the focus off of ourselves, and put the focus on the one who deserves it.
The fallacy about second chances is that we need to do work to be in God’s favor; – in reality, Christ did all the work for us on the cross. It is by grace, and through faith that we are aligned to God. The Lenten journey might be less about us, and more about realizing who He is.
So if you notice some ashes on the unwashed foreheads today, just remember, on this earth, we’re all on track for the same destiny.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV
Mike is a Clarendon Hills resident; husband; Indian Princess; Indian Guide Dad;  a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker.  Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around the area.  It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlight a new business or announce school happenings.  He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting residents and even a little about history. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”.

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