Thursday, March 6, 2014

Dirt and Drawing Conclusions

We often observe something or someone and immediately jump to a conclusion without knowing the whole story. Do you remember the Super Bowl commercial from several years ago about the romantic surprise dinner that didn't go as planned? It’s one of my all-time favorites and although I forgot the company the ad was for (Ameriquest), but their message stuck with me; don’t judge too quickly.

Black yoga pants. Someone who works out or is really into yoga? No. Sometimes they are worn strictly for comfort. They are my go-to bottoms of choice around the house, other than my flannel p.j. pants or my nifty velour pair. (Ask my girlfriends...they've met the lovely maroon pair.) If my dog Sydney sees me changing into black yoga pants however, she instantly assumes I’m taking her for a walk. Exercise pants or me tying on shoes means one thing to my dog. WALKING TIME. “Sorry Sydney, sometimes I wear this when I want to sit on the couch rather than walk in the rain with you...”

Audi S4 Convertible. That driver must be loaded, right? Wrong! My man bought a used Audi back in Illinois at a good deal. He is grateful for a company car and we own the cars our kids drive. (Oh, except the Nashville Daughter’s...we’re letting her “get on her feet” before having her take over the rest of the Jeep payments.) No, we are NOT loaded (two in college and renting at the moment), but grateful to have a cute car that brings us joy and when the Northwest finally gets a sunny day we really appreciate it with the top down.

Ashes on someone’s forehead. Probably Catholic?  Not necessarily. Last night Chapel Hill, an EPC~Evangelical Presbyterian Church, along with believers in the Church all over the world, held a service to honor the start of Lent. 

The first time I noticed ash marks on someone’s forehead I was a freshman at Ball State University. I’m not sure why I’d never noticed the marks before; we had a lot of Catholics in my town in the Midwest. I couldn’t figure out why I saw “dirt” on so many faces. I just thought it was weird until the significance was explained to me. If you see people next year on Ash Wednesday with a mark on their forehead, please don’t assume they are either Catholic or had such a wild “Fat Tuesday” evening that they didn’t clean up. The smudge of ashes in the shape of a cross signifies our sinfulness and our human mortality; God created man from dust and if we are repentant He will make us “clean” again. 

“By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” Genesis 3:19

Someone wearing a cross or having one in their home. Church attender? Decoration? Religious fanatic? Rule follower? My mind goes to lots of things when I see or wear a cross; Jesus, suffering, ultimate sacrifice, love... 

I’ll be spending the next 46 days leading up to Easter contemplating all that Jesus gave up for me and you. I want to focus on the cost of the cross. I hope to simplify my days and focus on what is really important; people, learning more about God through his word, and the life and grace we've been given. At the suggestion of my pastor, I’m clearing off my fireplace mantle (and putting up a simple cross) and I put this picture as my cell phone wallpaper.

Lent can be observed as a time of fasting or a time to focus. Let's try to remember, don’t judge too quickly; we ALL have some dirt and even with good intentions make a mess of things. 

I am currently wearing my moose pajama bottoms so you-know-who won't get the wrong idea...

In His Grip, Jane

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