BEAUTY FOR ASHES
Our friend Steve has a sister who owns a wellness education center in Montana.
She was one of the forerunners in discovering and promoting
how the power of raw foods can cleanse and heal.
Following a particularly stressful time of Steve’s life, she coaxed our bigger-than-life,
red meat loving, former football player friend into giving her juice fast and
meditation program a try so that he might experience the detoxification and
“renourishment” this holistic program offers.
I’m not sure if he was particularly skeptical going into it, but I am sure he wasn’t
totally prepared for the outcome. The story he told, as I remember it, is that
following the fast, he was instructed to put his feet in a stream of water;
when he did, the water began to turn black.
He could actually see the toxins flowing out from his body
as his health was renewed and restored.
Our bodies are pretty incredible, aren’t they?
“Fearfully and wonderfully made” is how the Bible says it (Psalm 139:14, NIV).
There’s a lot of stuff going on inside us that we’re not totally aware of.
And every so often we need to check in to see what needs to shift, what we need less
of, what we need more of, what we need none of. Regular appointments with our
primary care physician, mental health practioners, accupuncturists and others
help us do that for our physical bodies.
We need to care for the spiritual parts of ourselves,
our hearts and souls, in a similar way.
I do not know about you,
but I feel like in the last year (okay the last two years)
there’s a possibility that some things are going on inside of me – in my spirit that I need to take a look at,
some things that keep me from living the full life that Jesus offers.
Lent is a time to take that look at our spiritual life to see what needs to shift, what
we need less of, what we need more of, what we need none of. Once we identify the
changes needed to bring us to full life in Jesus, we can employ practices to rid
ourselves from the toxins that build up subtly in our spirits.
Practices like prayer, devotion, journaling, Bible study, fasting and worship are
disciplines that usher out the toxins affecting our spiritual life and
quench our thirst for the crystal-clear Water of Life.
Next Wednesday is Ash Wednesday. It marks the beginning of the Lenten journey.
We will have two Ash Wednesday services at Bethany, one at noon and one at 7pm.
While these services are somber occasions
and the ashes we receive are symbols of our mortality
(perhaps could we also envision them as the toxins we need rid of?),
we also remember that ours is the God who makes all things new,
gives beauty for ashes, and brings life from death.
We remember that Jesus has already done everything needed
to help us take this look inside and his Spirit is forever with us,
so the journey from Ash Wednesday to Easter
can be a precious time of recovery, rediscovery and intimacy with Christ, our Lord.
My prayer for each of us is that it will be.