This is the last LifeTalk devotional for January, so I thought I would be forward-thinking and mention a couple of opportunities we have to focus on the power of love in February.
The first is obvious. Feb. 14 is, of course, Valentine’s Day. It falls on a Sunday this year, so don’t let it creep up on you. Guys, we never want to be part of that sad sight at the pharmacy on a Feb. 13 evening, desperately picking through the cards and candy no one else wanted.
The second opportunity comes three days later. Feb. 17 may not bring immediate images of love to mind, but this year, it is the date for Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent, which prepares us for the Good News of Easter April 4.
Ash Wednesday is somber, of course, a time for remembering how we have sinned, failing our creator. We traditionally have ashes smeared on our foreheads in the shape of a cross as a sign of our sorrow.
In remembering our brokenness and mortality, however, we also are encouraged to repent, and repentance from sin and restoration to God are possible only because of the most dramatic expression of love the world has ever seen. God loves us first, and through Jesus Christ, God has saved us from the eternal death we deserve.
Christ’s death on the cross makes it possible for us to be Psalm 30 people:
I cried out to you, O Lord. I begged the Lord for mercy, saying, “What will you gain if I die, if I sink into the grave? Can my dust praise you? Can it tell of your faithfulness? Hear me, Lord, and have mercy on me. Help me, O Lord.” You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!
We can repent of sin and turn back toward God at any time, accepting the love continually offered. We’re approaching a special time, though, a season when the liturgies and Scripture readings will call us repeatedly to put sin behind us and embrace what lies ahead.
Lord, search us and show us what is not of you. Help us to be aligned with your will, revealed powerfully and clearly in Scripture. In the coming Lent, may we experience an awakening that changes everything. Amen.