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Ash Now!

posted Jun 19, 2013, 8:50 AM by Bowmansville UMC   [ updated Aug 27, 2013, 10:53 AM ]

“Even now, return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning” declares the Lord.  Rend your heart and not your garments.” (Joel 2:12-13)  It is not too late to return to God because he is gracious and compassionate to understand and forgive us.  I often tear off my garment thinking I am rending my heart.  I give, pray, and fast, but not quite with enough of my heart.  What is wrong with me?  What is worse than that is that sometimes I feel good and rewarded if someone else notice me and say something good about me when I do those deeds.  Not all the time but sometimes.   Paul said, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24)  That is me exactly.

One day a gentleman was walking down the street and found a group of children disputing over a 20 dollar bill they found on the street.  He stopped to see what’s going on.  They decided to give that money to the one who can provide an example of the biggest lies he or she has ever made in his or her life. Then the gentlemen interrupted them and said, “Hey kids.  That is not a good idea at all.  Don’t you know that lying is bad?  And now you are trying to boast yourself for the lies you made and then give prize for that?  That is just wrong.  I never ever lied when I was in your age.”  For a while there was a silent moment.  The gentleman felt that children regretted what they were doing and understood the lesson he gave them.  But then one boy made a deep sigh and said, “Okay he is the winner. Let’s give it to him.”  

We don’t know who we are very well.  We know how bad others are very quickly but hardly see how bad we ourselves are.   It is hard to see how badly we have gone away from God.  To give, pray, and fast without such a realization could lead us to self-boasting easily instead of restoration of the grace of God.  So let us be careful.  Some might say, “I don’t do any such so I will be fine.”  Oh, no!  I hope we all know that is not my point.  God wants us to give, pray, and fast but only in the right way.  God wants us to do those with all our hearts.  With clean and graceful heart!  That’s what matters.

Confess your heart to God.  Be honest and sincere.  You cannot hide from God.  When you confess, you are not giving any new information to God because He knows everything in your heart already.  He sees the center of your heart.  What do you have in your heart?

Don’t ever think that it is too late to return to God.  God is waiting for you now.  Now is the acceptable time to offer our hearts to God. Now is the day of salvation. We cannot wait until we are worthy to approach the throne because we will never be worthy.

The ashes remind us that we will never be worthy. But the cross that waits at the end of this journey proclaims that even imperfect mortals like us are worthy of God's love and salvation.  Here is the delicious irony: as we wear the ashes of mortality and sin on our foreheads, we are proclaiming God's victory over these very elements. Truly, now is the acceptable time to offer our hearts to God.

Amen and Amen!
Pastor Youngjae Jee