Last night I attended a beautiful Ash Wednesday service at Bethany United Methodist Church. Bethany is a beautiful church that is just off Poplar Camp Road. When I pulled up I was struck by the beauty of the stained glass windows that lit up the dark, dreary night. Colors were everywhere. My heart longs for heavens colors and I know that when I see them I will be overwhelmed with their brilliance, just as I was these windows in the darkness of this somber evening. I wouldn’t call Ash Wednesday a celebration, rather a remembrance. It is the time of year that we remember what Jesus did for us. It is a time of personal repentance. For me it is not a joyous occasion-it is a time to seek forgiveness for our personal sins. It is private, personal and emotional. It is not to be taken lightly. The message I heard from the pulpit on this evening was one of passion & conviction. I was compelled to seek repentance before I even heard the message. As I entered the sanctuary-it was silent, dark and somber. I was immediately filled with the Spirit of God. It was all around. I quietly walked to a seat and began to read the bulletin. As I did, I looked up the scriptures for the message. My eyes teared up and I began to cry. The tears just kept coming and they were the cleansing of my soul. God was creating a new heart in me.
You see, I have been so consumed with doing, doing, doing that I have gotten away from my True Love. I know, it sounds crazy because when we are called to be servants we DO, do, do. But there is a time when you can DO to much and lose your joy. In my excitement, I have a tendency to say YES to everything. THIS gets me in trouble with God. I realized in all that I had been doing, in the past several weeks, had been about what I wanted, not what God wanted. Ouch! I have also felt an urgency to do these things because of one thing or another. Those things came from the world-not from God. God has been showing me the errors of my ways. He is also calling me to come back to Him and be restored. My focus had been blurred and I needed some windex!
Some of you have asked where I have been, or what is wrong. Nothing is wrong-God is calling me to be still and listen for awhile. So I will be doing that for the next 40 days. I’m not taking on anything new, not overextending myself, not doing until I drop. I am just going to listen. Our Bethel studies will be winding down soon and I am really looking forward to biking season getting here. Cort and I are planning a fantastic trip to “Tail of the Dragon” and we will be getting away for a few days at the end of April. It is time for me to be still and be filled for the next season. I have several speaking engagements coming up and I need to zoom in on those and let God teach me how to be a better voice for Him. I’m excited about all that God is doing and I needed a kick in the pants! I sure got it!
This is a scripture that has breathed life back into me. As I read it last night I wept. This morning I read it with joy! I hope you do too! Take some time out for yourself and seek God’s will and way in your life and all that you do. You won’t regret it.
Joel is an OT prophet who called everyone to repent and turn back to God. We are to “rend” our heart to Gods, not our clothes. You see in the OT when a person was under great conviction they would “rend” or tear their clothing violently. If you remember when Jesus died on the cross the “curtain of the temple was torn in two.” ( Matthew 27:51) This was violent ripping of the cloth from top to bottom. It was the inner curtain of the temple that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place-the place where the Priest met with God Almighty. No one was allowed there except the Priest. In the dying of Jesus, the veil ( curtain) was torn in two- thus allowing all people access to God. When we rend our hearts to God, we too, are removing the veil that we have placed there-allowing our whole heart to be pierced by God Almighty, not just part of it. This is a continual process over our lifetime. Things happen and we put that veil back on to protect our heart-or so we think. Not really though- because, for me, it keeps God from getting inside me. Sometimes it takes a violent force to rip that curtain in two-an earthquake in our life, or sometimes it is just the day to day living that may drive us to tear the veil away. We want more, but we don’t how to get it or what to do, and for me it comes in doing. That’s not what God wants. He wants our heart. All of it. Every last smidgeon of it. Does he have yours? I pray that he does.
Change Your Life
12 But there’s also this, it’s not too late—
God’s personal Message!—
“Come back to me and really mean it!
Come fasting and weeping, sorry for your sins!”
13-14Change your life, not just your clothes.
Come back to God, your God.
And here’s why: God is kind and merciful.
He takes a deep breath, puts up with a lot,
This most patient God, extravagant in love,
always ready to cancel catastrophe.
Who knows? Maybe he’ll do it now,
maybe he’ll turn around and show pity.
Maybe, when all’s said and done,
there’ll be blessings full and robust for your God!
15-17 Blow the ram’s horn trumpet in Zion!
Declare a day of repentance, a holy fast day.
Call a public meeting.
Get everyone there. Consecrate the congregation.
Make sure the elders come,
but bring in the children, too, even the nursing babies,
Even men and women on their honeymoon—
interrupt them and get them there.
Between Sanctuary entrance and altar,
let the priests, God’s servants, weep tears of repentance.
Let them intercede: “Have mercy, God, on your people!
Don’t abandon your heritage to contempt.
Don’t let the pagans take over and rule them
and sneer, ‘And so where is this God of theirs?'”
May you be drawn near to God over the next 40 days.
Blessings for your journey,