“From that time Jesus began to proclaim,
‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near’…”
“Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom.”
Matthew 4:17, 23
It’s my number one favorite bumper sticker, the one that says, “God allows U-turns!” I like it because it is the good news of the Kingdom of God. God allows any U-turn that turns prodigals homeward to Him.
Many people hear the news of God’s Kingdom as condemnation and threat rather than the startling good news Jesus proclaims. The good news of God’s kingdom is not about U-turns or repentance bringing God’s grace, but God’s amazing grace bringing our repentance. We come home to God finding ourselves already welcomed by Him. We make the decision to accept God’s acceptance of us.
On this Ash Wednesday we begin Lent in the presence of God, acknow-ledging wrong directions in our lives and making our U-turns back to Him. It is there in God’s welcoming arms that we will discover the blessed life Jesus promises in the beatitudes.
From the earliest days of the church, Christians have sprinkled ashes on themselves as an outward sign of repentance or change in direction. This follows Job’s example of repenting “in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6). By the tenth century Christians began to signify their repentance and U-turns by having ashes placed on their foreheads in the shape of the Cross.
On this holy Ash Wednesday we acknowledge wrong directions in our lives and believe Jesus’ good news about His Kingdom. We let go our pretense; we are completely honest with God about who we are, and how we struggle. Today we make our U-turns back to God. Today we accept our acceptance by Him.
PONDER AND PRAY
“God has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:13
- Are there any U-turns you want to begin today? Tell God about them and ask His help.
- If you are finding it difficult to accept God’s unconditional acceptance of you, talk with Him about it.
- Think about attending an Ash Wednesday service, writing in a journal, or spending some quiet time in order to nail down the significance of this day for you.