It’s Ash Wednesday again, and before 10 a.m. I already had eaten a Three Musketeer Bar. But I’m not giving up chocolate for Lent, so that’s ok. Right?

For the next seven weeks, I’ll go on eating meat on Fridays, I will probably slip up and sing an Alleluia on Sundays, and the fast I have chosen, to give up the hours between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., seems self-indulgent to most. In fact, when I tell people what I that I am going to bed on time for Lent, they look at me like, “I wish!” It would be no sacrifice for them.

I’m not very good at Lent.

I’m not even sporting an ashen cross on my forehead. There’s no charred mark identifying me with Christ for today. In fact, I won’t even attend an Ash Wednesday service today, since that’s not part of my church’s tradition.

But as I have thought about this day, imagined myself being sent by the Spirit into the wilderness like Jesus, I thought about the mark that He wore. His hair still wet from the baptismal dip in the Jordan by his cousin John,  Jesus left the crowds and walked into the desert alone. He took no food; the forty days was a fast. He didn’t need a compass; the Spirit would lead him.

And He didn’t need an ashen cross on His forehead because a wooden cross already filled His heart.

He entered the wilderness to prepare to die.

So even as my forehead stands empty, I pray that my life does not go unmarked.

Though no ash has touched my skin, may the grief and sorrow of the cross sear deep into my heart.

And may this wilderness I walk though with Jesus prepare me to die a thousand deaths as each day I pick up my cross and follow him.

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More Ash Wednesday posts . . .

 

Lent + Giving Up Chocolate =” by Amber Robinson

Why Do Lent?” by Ann Voskamp

Slow-Down Fast: Singletasking” by Ann Kroeker

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The wilderness feels a little less daunting since yesterday afternoon when I received my latest cancer test results. From all indications, I continue to be cancer free – almost 30 months! I feel great and am grateful beyond belief to be celebrating life even as I contemplate His death.