Today is Ash Wednesday. I am from a tradition that has never recognized Lent. It was always something for those other churches. My brother is Orthodox, and I have often spoken to him about some of the season of the Church commemorated by the Catholic or Orthodox church. I think in some ways, that we have thrown the baby out with the bath water. When we cast aside seasons like Lent and Advent we have lost a great opportunity for reflection and instruction. Lent is a time of year to spend reflecting on our own wickedness. I am sure that is not something that many people like to think about. It is so much easier to look at others and think that we are doing so much better. Other people are not the standard. We need to compare ourselves to Christ. In this time of the year, we should reflect on how much more we have to grown in Christlikeness. Christ is the standard, and we have fallen so short of that great standard. When we think we have it all together, we are only fooling ourselves.
David teaches us to cast ourselves on the unfailing love of God. We can be assured that his great compassion will blot out our sins. We remain, daily, in active rebellion against God. Against God, and God alone have we sinned. Each of our sins at it very core is a sin of pride. We have tried to place ourselves on the throne. We are not worthy to sit on that throne. We are not God, and can never be. We were born sinners. From the moment of our conception, our thoughts have been of only wickedness. We call upon God to cleanse us and make us more like himself. We can not accept that cleansing until God has broken us. God can not use us until he has been able to conquer us. We remain prideful until God exposes us for who we really are. We call upon him to give us a new and clean heart. When we gaze upon the holiness of God, in light of our own wickedness, it restores that joy we first felt when we were delivered from our sin. We can never really feel the true joy of our salvation until we are honest about the deep of our depravity. When we are brought to that state of true brokenness, then we can do nothing but praise God for his great mercy. David speaks of the sacrifices of his day. He says that God does not require a sacrifice. That is a shocking thing for him to say when everything in his day was built around the sacrificial system of the Old Testament. He says that God requires a broken and repentant heart. That is all God is asking of us. He is not asking to live a certain way or try to be a better us. He is asking us to empty ourselves of pride and self-righteousness, and allow him to fill us with himself. I pray that we would spend the next forty days empty ourselves of that pride, and allowing God to fill us with his amazing mercy. Only when we have completely abandoned any thought of our own goodness, will we be able to truly grasp the power of the Cross. If we truly see ourselves as God sees us, then Good Friday will take on a whole new meaning for us. I pray that God would guide us to that point during this Lenten season.