Ash Wednesday - Draw Near With Confidence

Today is Ash Wednesday, which starts the 40 days plus Sundays during which Christians (most Protestants and Catholics) spend a lot of time reflecting on Jesus' suffering and sacrifice for us on the cross. It is a time spent preparing ourselves to celebrate both His death and resurrection. Jesus Christ died on the cross, taking on our sins, allowing himself to be separated from the Father, His Father so that we won't have to be. Hebrews 4:16 says: "Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Because of His death, we can go with confidence before the throne of the God.

I have mixed feelings about Lent really. I like the idea of spending time focused on the precious price Christ paid, the suffering He endured, the mercy and grace He secured for us. What I don't like about it is when the seriousness becomes depressing. Maybe this is my own problem. I don't know. But what I know from spending time with the Lord is that He is not a sad, somber, depressed God. At my church, we don't say "Alleluia" during Lent - this bothers me. I understand that the disciples and people in Jesus' time did mourn when He died, but friend, we know the ending!! Jesus rose from the dead and is alive! I will not spend one second at His funeral.

Without Christ's death and forgiveness, we would not be able to approach the throne of grace. We would not be able to live in the Living God's Presence. We would be dead in our sins. Realize that. Take it in. Understand the misery that our lives would be if not for the ultimate sacrifice of Christ on that cross. On our own we are not worthy. But, dearly loved child, the Lord saw us as worth it!

I do not mean, on any level, to detract from the work of Christ on the Cross. I realize He could have called down 1000 angels to save Him at any moment on that cross. The masses didn't kill Him, Pontius Pilate wouldn't have killed Him, Roman legions couldn't have nailed the Son of God to the cross. Even our sin didn't kill Him. Christ Jesus held Himself on that cross. And he chose to die for us. He did it to forgive us of our sins, but make no mistake about it, our sin does not possess the power it would take to kill the great I AM. Our sin necessitated His death. It did play a large role! But it was His love for us and His mercy and His grace that caused the Lord God to willingly die on two splintered pieces of wood. He did it because He loves us so dearly that He would rather die than lose us! Do not miss His strength in His death. It was His choice, and He chose to save us. My heart cannot absorb the depth of that love.

But here's an equally important part of the story - Christ rose from the dead! He isn't dead! We do not need to spend Lent mourning for Him. He is ALIVE! And "if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9). And then you're alive too! So, I guess the part of Lent that bugs me is the attitude of constant self-focus and the atmosphere of a funeral. We only have 365 days a year to praise His great name! I don't mean to suggest we shouldn't reflect on what He went through to save us, but when we do, I think it should make us shout praises of thanksgiving with great joy!

He died so that He could have a relationship with us. Let's realize that we would be nothing without Him, but then let's realize that He counted us worth it even in our weakness. And, in Him, we are counted as righteous - no longer dead in sin and separated from God, but alive in Christ and able to approach the throne of grace! If you have never accepted His forgiveness, I hope that today you will ask Him to be your Lord and Savior, to forgive you of all your sins, and to come and be the Lord of your life, letting His Holy Spirit dwell in you.

Humbled by His great love and awed by His strength, let's approach the throne of grace with a holy confidence this Lent and always. As for me, when I remember the work of Christ on the cross and the fact that He then rose from the dead, I am going to shout "Alleluia" no matter what tradition says.