Sitting last night in my freakishly quiet house, I found myself noticing the loudness of silence.
It was a rare occurrence, indeed.
My house was empty of everyone but me.
Everyone else was out.
“A random quiet Wednesday” I thought. And then another thought “Ash Wednesday.”
And for just a small little second, I felt a pang of jealousy for those of you who celebrated Ash Wednesday.
(Likely, all my Catholic friends out there!)
Not being Catholic, I admit to always feeling a bit of sorrow about missing out on this tradition.
I see you out there, once a year, your beautiful foreheads smudged with a cross.
And again, not being Catholic, it would have been very unlikely (and disconcerting) if anyone began rubbing ashes on my head.
And thats ok.
But just so you know – I kinda dig the whole thing.
Because I adore this season.
These 40 days.
What some call lent and I just call the countdown to Easter (non-Catholics need a catchier name for this..)
Also, for many of us who love Jesus, but fall outside certain denominations, there is also not a specific call to “give something up” during these next forty days.
We aren’t fasting chocolate for “lent”.
We aren’t fasting meat, or potatoes or alcohol.
Although, some of us are fasting carbs but that has little to do with lent and much more to do with waistlines that expanded around the Christmas season.
But, still, much like my heart is a little bit jealous of your smudgy crosses, it is also envious of your lenten fasts..
All denominations generally agree that jealousy is not good practice, so I found myself writing through it.
I decided to declare, via this blog, that I too am marked.
Marked and sealed by a cross.
Marked by the cross.
Actually, I didn’t even have to declare it..the bible did that for me.
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit
I heard the gospel of my salvation..
I know the truth..
So, I’m good.
I am sealed and marked.
Even without a forehead smudge.
As far as the practice of fasting something for lent? This took more processing.
I said there wasn’t a call on my life to give something up. But that isn’t true.
And in the quiet of Wednesday, I suddenly know, exactly what God was calling me to give up.
Life lived on my own terms.
I have to give that up.
Not just on Ash Wednesday.
Or on The Day After Ash Wednesday.
Or the next forty days.
But every single day.
The fact that I am marked with Christ, that my heart is sealed with His spirit, brings with it a call to fast, to give up, my way of seeing people. To fast from judging others, and of judging my own life and declaring it .. not enough, not right..somehow.
I need to see my own life and the life of others through the eyes of Jesus.
I need to feel with the heart of Jesus.
I need to love God and love people with the love of Jesus.
That’s it really, isn’t it?
This entire season we are entering into..call it Lent, or Almost Easter, or whatever.. its about the unrelenting love of God for people, embodied in the man of Jesus, causing Him to journey closer and closer to death on a cross..for us.
To seal us.
To mark us.
To mark not just our foreheads but our hearts. To scrawl across them, in His own hand “loved. forgiven. accepted.”
These permanent markings should cause our hearts to cry out “now take from me God! I fast it all. Take my own judgement, my own demands, my own selfish ways, my mean, uncaring character. Let my outside ways align with what you have written, marked, on my heart. Let my ways, actions and words match Your own..”
And the most beautiful thing?
As we fast, He fulfills.
He asks us to give, because it simply allows space for more of Him.
And what is He?
He is love.
He is mercy.
He is grace.
He is kindness.
He is inclusive.
He is compassionate.
Marked, Sealed, fasting from the foolishness of me, creates space for me to become more like Him? Yes!
Hooray, it’s arrived, it’s the “season-of-Easter-is-coming”!
Much love and authentically yours,