Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ashes to ashes

As an introvert, the season of Lent has always been one of my favorite times, a period designated for introspection.  But this year, I’m not feeling it.  No, more accurately, I’m feeling it too much.  There is so much that seems off with the world, my personal sphere and the greater world around me, and I don’t want to spend any more time reflecting on darkness and sin when I’ve been wearing these mourning clothes for too long already.  My heart is heavy with the burdens of ministry…the offhand prayer request that reveals so much worry and pain, the falling away of those I can’t seem to reach, and the questions of whether what I do really matters.  There is grief in my church, which brings old hurts to the surface of my own heart.  I want to look for light and hope, but instead see the dark clouds all around.

For everything there is a season, a time for every matter under heaven:
A time for building up, and a time for breaking down,
A time for laughing, and a time for weeping.

Too much seems broken, and there are no more tears.

What kind of fast can I choose when I feel starved to the bone?  Why do we fast but you do not see?

Isaiah 58:1-12
58:1 Shout out, do not hold back! Lift up your voice like a trumpet! Announce to my people their rebellion, to the house of Jacob their sins.

58:2 Yet day after day they seek me and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments, they delight to draw near to God.

58:3 "Why do we fast, but you do not see? Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?" Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day, and oppress all your workers.

58:4 Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to strike with a wicked fist. Such fasting as you do today will not make your voice heard on high.

58:5 Is such the fast that I choose, a day to humble oneself? Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush, and to lie in sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD?

58:6 Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?

58:7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?

58:8 Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.

58:9 Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,

58:10 if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.

58:11 The LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail.

58:12 Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.

I want the ashes I wear today to remind me of the dust that comes from rebuilding, not destruction.  I desire a reminder of water in parched places.  I long to see the light of resurrection even as I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.

God, make my bones strong again, and let my light break forth like the dawn.  Let me find your healing in doing your work among the brokenness of your world.  In this season, help me to be reminded of your salvation, and may I carry that good news to others who are living among the ruins.  May you be our cornerstone as we begin to rebuild together.  Amen.


  1. Jenny, you're such a blessing to this campus and the world. You touch so many people and I hope that the introspection you have during this time includes all of the wonderful and beautiful things in the world -- yourself included!

  2. Thank you, Abby! You bring much beauty to my world and I'm so grateful to be in the position I am and to be part of your journey and the journeys of so many fabulous people. You all inspire me so much and give me hope that your light will always shine through the darkness.