Thursday, March 10, 2011

my two hands

A man invited me to stick my hands into the pile of ashes before me. Run my fingers through the dust and charred remnants. Rub my hands together, feeling the grit and grime.

And then I sat to ponder the connection between the ashes that covered my two hands and the sins that covered my life. This is what I looked like through the lens of holiness. Through the eyes of a perfect guide. Dirty. Discolored. Disfigured.

Here’s what came to mind as I contemplated the condition of my hands. One: this was not the way my hands were supposed to look. Underneath these ashes and burnt scraps was the real me. Hidden from the light, from the truth. Second: I did not want to come into contact with anything white or pure or clean, because any contact would instantly blemish its beauty. Third: wanting the ashes to go away—no matter how much effort or pressure I applied—was not enough. No matter how much I rubbed my hands and fingers together, I could not clean myself. Could not.

And then I confessed my sins. Sins of gluttony, pride and neglect.

And I was cleaned. Purified. Refreshed.

Just as I was in the beginning.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

will I persevere?

You pray, pray, pray, pray… and nothing happens. Sound familiar?

So what happens? The despair, pressures and uncertainty of life remain. And then this sinking feeling sets in when you realize that the lack of response from God the Father only brings more despair, increased pressure and greater uncertainty.

A friend of mine has been dealing with life’s circumstances for some time now. And despite prayer, he seems to grow more weary every week. (You can pray for him here.)

So this morning I was wondering… is this what perseverance looks like? If so, am I personally ready for such a test?

At a men’s group on Monday, Kris shared a passage from 2 Peter:

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.

We talked about the process of becoming more Christ-like, and the steps and work involved getting there. If you’re a regular reader here, you’ll know that I’ve been dealing with issues of self-control for some time on a number of fronts—and have increasingly become more confident in the power I have with Christ in this regard.

So this morning I shuddered a bit. Because the next item on the list is perseverance.

And as I think about the friend mentioned above… the one who seemingly deals with despair, pressures and uncertainty without God jumping in to change life’s circumstances … I see him not only as a friend in need of prayer… I see him as a role model for the path I have yet to reach.