God’s call to you on Ash Wednesday
On this day, consider how God calls you. Come back to me, he says, Come back to me with all your heart, fasting, weeping, mourning, and turn to the Lord your God. (Joel 2:12-13) You need to hear this call in the depths of your faith and answer it without delay. Do not leave God waiting. Instead, use this day of repentance to put yourself right with him, because nothing is so dear to God as when men and women turn to him with true sorrow for having forgotten his commandments.
We know that God holds such repentance dear to his heart, because Jesus told us plainly that he had come not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. (Luke 5:32) Since God knows even our most secret thoughts, there is no way we could ever claim not to be sinners. (Psalm 93) He has called us to be holy and there is no better time than right now at the beginning of the Season of Lent for you to promise God that you will keep his commands. (1 Thess. 4:6-7; Psalm 118:145-152) It is your chance for a new beginning.
What does Ash Wednesday’s ash symbolise?
As you leave the altar today with the mark of ash on your forehead, consider it’s meaning for it is a symbol of your life: For dust you are and to dust you shall return. (Genesis 3:19) This truth will shadow your every moment whether you are asleep or awake, rich and famous, or poor and forgotten. You may ignore its truth for most of your life but by accident or age, you will finally acknowledge it.
So today is a day set aside to answer God’s wonderful call by our repentance of heart. Let those ashes on your head be the outward sign that you profess a true penitential spirit. Let his mark on your body be an outward sign of your inner contrition of heart. Let it be an emblem of humility and a remembrance of your frail composition and the shortness of your life.
Answer the call
Make good use, then, of these Lenten days of penitence. Spare no pains in asking for God’s mercy in the manner he has declared good for you and acceptable to him, which is through fasting, mourning, and prayer. In this way, we can answer God’s call and prepare for the glory of the Cross, which is the resurrection of Our Lord, Christ-Jesus.
© “Meditations for Lent” by Stafford Whiteaker from “CALLED INTO LIGHT — Meditations with Bishop Challoner for the Christian Year” by Stafford Whiteaker to be published by Gracewing Ltd in late 2021. Permission is granted for quoting from these meditations as long as the source by book title and author is credited. Pre-ordering via www.gracewing.co.uk. (Please note that foreign rights including USA have not yet been finalised. Permission has been granted by the author for this book to be translated into the French language as well as the usual translations given in foreign rights editions.)