I sit in the back row, beneath the balcony where it’s always darker than the rest of the sanctuary. The church is full, but I feel alone. Solitude, a welcome comfort at the end of a day run wild with kids and school work, and all of the other things that rise up demanding attention between dawn and dinner.
The service is too late for the little one who will be antsy and melting by 8PM, so my husband keeps the whole brood home and sends me to church. He knows me well, loves me generously.
I scratch a handful of notes during the service, but when I look down this is the one that stands out; “Ashes to Ashes”.
It’s been 2 years since I sat in the ashes of the Refiners fire. Stripped of my pride, I had wept for days, raw from the rubbing of the fullers soap. I’ve never felt so exposed, so utterly bare–and free.
I would go on to write that story, not by desire but out of sheer trembling obedience. By God’s grace, it continues to pass through so many hands. But I have not forgotten the burn, I remember the cost. All along I see it, “ashes to ashes”.
For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. (Psalm 103:4)
It’s dangerous living when you forget where you came from. Only a fool lives as if their days aren’t numbered, as if they aren’t shaped and molded out of the dust. I lived foolishly for so many years.
With my back pressed into the chair, in the dim of the hushed sanctuary, I remember this truth: Our days are just a breath, our lives, merely a wisp in the greater cosmos.
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19)
This aching season calls me to remember what I am apt to forget–that I am ashes, that my life is not my own, that a price was paid, and apart from my Maker I am incapable of any good thing.
Ashes to ashes.
With the mark of remembrance swiped in oil and ash in the shape of a cross on my forehead, I step out into the bitter cold. The weight of glory pressing in, the cross of Christ.
Thy work alone, O Christ,
Can erase the weight of sin;
Thy blood alone, O Lamb of God, can give me peace within.
Thy love to me, O God, not mine,
O Lord to Thee,
Can rid me of this dark unrest,
And set my spirit free.
(Horatius Bonar, Not What My Hands Have Done)
For a limited time, you can download both Holey, Wholly, Holy: A Lenten Journey of Refinement and the Companion Workbook for FREE from Noisetrade books. My prayer is that somewhere between the pages, you would meet Christ, and enjoy a deeper communion with Him.
You are loved, friends. Let Him love you.