Ash Wednesday


Several weeks ago I was invited to attend an Ash Wednesday service at a local Anglican Mission church.  The service was at 7:00am.  I am NOT a morning person.  I thought that it would be nice to go, but knew that realistically no good intentions would be enough to get me somewhere a full two hours before I needed to be at work.  Therefore, I made no promise to attend – to myself or anyone else.

 

Last night before I drifted off to sleep, I prayed a simple prayer. 

“Lord, if You want me to go to that 7:00am Ash Wednesday service tomorrow, then You will have to wake me up at 5:30am.  It’s in Your hands, Lord.”

 

I did not expect to wake up this morning until the alarm went off at the usual time.  Much to my surprise, at 5:21am my eyes opened wide.  I got up, got ready, and was out the door by 6:30.  I made it to the service on time, sat with my friends, and soon understood why I was to go.

 

Something has been stirring in my spirit over the last several weeks.  The best way I know to describe it is as a sense of disgust for the excesses in my life.  I have over-indulged in rich foods, I have over-indulged in spending, and I have over-indulged in things that waste my time and take me away from spending time with the Lord.  I am in debt:  not only financially, but physically and spiritually.  I could start spending wisely, eating wisely, and managing my time wisely today – but it would not be enough to make up for the over-indulgences of the past.  I have been coming to understand that I must have a time of restraint, a time of restriction, a time of fasting, in order to get to a break-even point.  Once I reach “zero”, I can start to build. 

 

What is “zero” or breaking even for me?  Financially, it’s easy to determine that, but what about physically and spiritually?  I’m not sure how to measure that yet.  Physically, I could set a weight goal, but there is so much more to it than that.  I must include physical fitness and strength.  And spiritually, it’s hard to measure where one goes from breaking even to over-flowing. 

 

The service this morning began with an explanation of the origins of Lent:  I won’t repeat it all here, but this part stood out to me.  “…all Christians… take to heart the call to repentance… and so grow in faith and in devotion to our Lord.  I invite you, therefore, to observe a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy word.” 

 

I knew as I heard the words that God is calling me to a time of self-examination and self-denial.  In the past this has seemed like the last thing on earth I’d want to do.  But this morning it seemed like a call to pure joy.  The idea of restricting myself in order to press in to God and repent from gluttony and pride seems fresh and new.  Not like a diet, a budget, or a strict daily devotional time, but an opportunity to do something to show God my love.  It is a desire to find simplicity, to return to my first love – or maybe find Him for the first time. 

 

Perhaps I’ve been so busy in my life trying to be someone special – to compensate for times I was hurt or mistreated, times I got away with things I shouldn’t have, times I broke others hearts – that I’ve never really taken time to just BE a Christian:  to be a woman who loves God with all her heart and really would do anything for Him. 

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22 Comments

Filed under Spiritual Life

22 responses to “Ash Wednesday

  1. Kimberly…thank you for sharing your thoughts! Your heart, passtion, realness, and eloquence is very moving. Thank you again for sharing.

  2. Well I totally admire your honesty, for starters. I know what you mean about ‘restricting’ sounding fresh for once. I often feel that way after the holidays. Though I’ve certainly indulged (and enjoyed it) I almost look forward to making myself cut back. That is, until the day I have to cut back!

    As for finding what your ‘zero’ is, I’m sorry to say that I haven’t any clue either. I wish there was a spiritual scale to step on. Or maybe I dont…weight scales are scary enough…:)

    I’m glad you enjoyed the service today though. Many people find these types of spiritual expressions to be empty and meaningless,but I totally disagree. I think they give the regular, every day type of spiritual experiences much more depth.

    How cool is it that you woke up on time?!

    • kimberlywenger

      Thanks for your comment, Tiffany! I’m glad someone understands that. It’s not a feeling I’ve had very often in life… ha!

  3. FreedomFan

    Wonderful reflections, Kimberly. I grew up Catholic so I’m well versed in traditional Lent. After I accepted the Lord as my savior I learned about fasting in a new way, but still often times all I ever got out of it was hunger pains. It was not until my 30s that I understood that just to deny yourself something wasn’t the point. I needed to fill the place of whatever I was giving up with some time of running after God. So when Pastor Rick asked us to decide what we would do this year, I asked God to reveal to me what He saw was best and most beneficial to our relationship. And He did. Typically after 10PM, when I’ve finally got all 4 kids into bed and the house is quiet, I would sit and watch some TV or a movie, but the Lord encouraged me not to accept a replica of life for the real thing. So now I spend that time with Him, seeking out abundant life in His word. I’ve only been at it for a week, but I’ve already felt the benefits in my heart and soul. Whatever you decide to do, Kimberly, it will be an investment with an infinite return. Thanks for sharing your heart and forgive my ramblings 🙂 Many blessings, D

    • kimberlywenger

      I love your thoughts! Thank you so much for sharing. My best friend growing up was Catholic and I remember the first time she showed up at church with black stuff smudged on her forehead. She was shocked that a pastor’s daughter wouldn’t know anything about Ash Wednesday. We never heard anything about Lent when I was growing up. I’m like a little baby experiencing it for the first time. I’ve been to Ash Wednesday services at least once or twice as an adult, but had no idea what signficance the ashes had until the pastor explained it so beautifully this morning.

  4. RueDuParadis

    This is a great post, Kimberly!
    I think it’s great that God spoke to you personally on things that you needed to work on…It’s also fascinating to see how different people relate to Lent. I always thought that Lent meant giving up “something” in order to be closer to God…but the other side of this is also true…more than just “giving up” is what we gain in return…A closer, more intimate view of our Savior…which, of course, is worth giving up everything!!

  5. jeremycarlson

    Great thoughts Kimberly!!! Glad I was there to experience it with you.

  6. Linda Hilliard

    Kimberly, I loved this new blog. It is sincere and full of the passion for your desire to serve the Lord. I think during this Lent season, a lot of us will be searching our souls to find that place in God that we know that we know! My prayers are joined with yours. You are truly leading the way to help us all to take a moment and recognize that God loves us and how much we need a relationship with Him.

    • kimberlywenger

      Thank you, Linda. I really appreciate you reading and responding. Sometimes it’s hard to receive God’s love because we’re so conditioned by human “love” and all that it does to disappoint. I’m tired of focusing on the disappointment and ready to embrace the real thing.

  7. Bre

    It is refreshing to stop and enjoy the simplicity of one sharing their heart. Thanks for being so open. May God bless you!

  8. hazeldeason

    Kimberly, love, several years ago, BBC (before breast cancer), I felt God calling me to a weekly fast. I thought, You must be kidding, God. Ha! He wasn’t. So I reluctantly decided to obey. Little did I know how long this would continue or that I would see absolutely amazing things accomplished in myself, my marriage, and my children. Early on, I could not envision that God was also preparing me for the greatest battle of my life thus far, i.e., breast cancer, and that I would learn about “walking through the valley of the shadow” and about “fear[ing] no evil.” So . . . obedience brings unimaginable rewards. You go, girl!

    • kimberlywenger

      Thank you for sharing, Hazel. There was another season in my life where I was called to fast and given an extraordinary grace for it. But when the time was over, I felt like I lost the grace to do it. I prayed for God to restore it and until today, felt like it might be gone forever. Today I feel new and fresh, ready to jump in again and somehow excited about the opportunity to worship God in this way.

  9. Katie

    Great blog and hope to have some time soon to come back and read more!

    • kimberlywenger

      I do like it. Thanks for sending it. I think understand what the author is saying. God is so awesome and we are so unworthy that our words and attempts to understand and/or explain Him are ridiculous. The only thing I question is the silence. If God gifts someone to be a writer or speaker and they are silenced by their awe for Him, what happens to their gift? How much have people grown in their understanding of God and their relationship with Him as a result of Barth and Aquinas? They have definitely shaped my understanding. I guess the author must agree though or he wouldn’t have written his own book! 🙂

  10. Michael

    Kimberly:

    We need more people in our lives that are willing to be transparent and point us toward Christ through what’s revealed in their transparency: debt, indulgence, overeating, etc. Thank you for this word.

  11. Dodi

    There are many things I can relate to in your blog. I see that God woke you at 5:21, not 5:30 so He still left it up to you. I like your being open and a comment Re: over-flowing. That is where the repentant heart allows the Holy Spirit to come in and do it for you. (Eph. 2:10).
    Historical background is in Leviticus 23:15-21.There are two names, Shavuot (weeks)because it occurs seven weeks after a specific event,and we call it Pentecost due to the fifty days. A time of thanksgiving for the early harvest & hope for latter.We know Acts 2.1-5,12 was the spiritual adding back to the church 3,000 for the ones lost in the wilderness. We were grafted in until the final day (Ro. 11:26. Eph.2:11-22 & esp.V.15 says he broke down the wall, making ONE NEW MAN-OR Born Again. They are in revival now ( Messianic) times being joined back (Romans 11) or as in Hosea 14:4-8.
    The denial of self is that of the disciple and our calling is to be that, Ro.12:1-3.Not for fifty days but a lifetime. To live in the spirit is to die to self no matter what and not care what others think if you are pleasing God.His purpose is to purify His Bride to bring us home Holy to be presented to His Father.The spiritul battle is the Lord’s as long as we are in Him, our part is to trust, have faith and obey. As long as we keep our eyes on Him and not circumstance we please the Lord and He honors. Speaking specific to the world, I’m doing the Daniel study and it calls the world ‘Babylon’. We are surrounded by two calls, one from the world and one by God. We have a choice to trust and obey or believe the world that God cannot provide. I am living proof that He can and does provide not only financial but spiritual. He brought me to His banqueting table and His banner over me is love. Song of Solomon is about marriage of God to us if we are in Him and in Spirit. Flesh profits nothing!
    I don’t know if we ever get ‘there’ but I’m committed to trust He can finish what He started for that is His promise.
    May the Lord Bless and Keep You in His Love,
    Dodi

    • Jenn

      Kimberly,
      WOW! I am seeing why God brought us together for discipleship. I am really looking forward to spending more time with you throughout these seven weeks as it appears we have an uncanny amount of things in common! Anyway, the ironic thing is that I am reading your blog-today (not Lent, but about Lent none the less) and my (non-Christian) hair dresser actually invited me to do a (modified) two week fast-today! So as I am sitting here drinking my water, I am amazing at God. BTW, I also printed out Dodi’s response. That is a bible study in itself that I can’t wait to read at a more decent hour. But Mom’s have to have their chat time too, it’s just a shame it’s in the middle of the night! Silence is a beautiful thing! Lots of Love. I am looking forward to talking to you soon.
      Many Blessings,
      Jenn Sharpe

  12. As your friend, let me say that I am so impressed with the fact that you were up and out the door! That, in and of itself, is cause to celebrate! As a believer, let me say that I’m amazed at the things God does to get our attention. And I love the fact that you were obedient. Free will is an amazing gift and all too often taken for granted. As an admirer, let me say that is so wonderfully and beautifully written! As one who is always longer to draw closer to God, let me say, I have truly been inspired! Thank you!

  13. Pingback: Sex Sells? « Kimberly Wenger’s Blog

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