[The beginning of these daily reflections are adapted from PAUSES FOR LENT: 40 Words for 40 Days Copyright © 2015 by Trevor Hudson by Upper Room Books Nashville. Both the selected Scripture and theme and initial paragraph in quotes are from Trevor Hudson.]
“You are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Genesis 3:19
“On the first day of Lent, which the church calls Ash Wednesday, many people have their foreheads crossed with ashes as a reminder that they are creatures of dust. We are fragile, fallible, fallen human beings. From the moment we emerge from our mother’s womb, we begin the process of dying. To think that one day we will be nothing but ashes is a pretty grim reality. Not surprisingly many of us avoid facing this truth. It is not something we want to reflect on or speak about or even read. After all, when we begin to sense how near to nothing we are, we can easily find ourselves in despair. Being born to die is not good news.”
But the good news of the Gospel is that after death, comes life. Jesus died on the cross but he rose again to new life. When we trust Christ, we find ourselves experiencing what many call the ”New Birth.” This birth has put to death the old ways of living and sets us on a course of salvation which God offers through his Son Jesus Christ.
In John 3 we read about an encounter between Jesus and a Pharisee named Nicodemus. Nick, as I like to call him, comes to Jesus at night so as not to be seen or noticed by others. Jesus was causing quite a stir and Nicks’ presence would only add to the chaos and cause confusion.
The conversation which occurs between them involves discussion about life, death, new birth. At one point Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You[c] must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
Being born again is crucial to having new life. But before we have life, we must face death. Jesus was born to die and to be raised to new life. Dying to sin, confessing our humanity, rejecting our own flesh, and receiving Christ as Savior is a part of the death-to-life process. For some this is gradual awakening of our souls, and for others, it’s an instantaneous experience of grace.
The founder of the Methodist Church, Rev. John Wesley, had his own conversation experience. It happened while at a church on Aldergate Street in London. Wesley writes, ”I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”
Lent begins with us in dust because we are lost without Christ. Those who are lost can be saved. Those who are broken can be healed. Those who are dead can come back to life.
Have you trusted Christ for your salvation? Repent and believe the Gospel.
“O Lord God, you are good. In this season of Lent I confess I often get distracted. I want to find hope in your words but I so mistrust myself! I need your Holy Spirit to give me confidence, walk with me in love, reveal to me my significance in you. I love you Lord and confess that I am a sinner, saved by your grace. Come now, Holy Spirit, for you are good and love your endures forever.” Amen