Ruth Haley Barton: True identity

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“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Joel 2:12

“Ash Wednesday…initiates a season of acknowledging our sinfulness. In very intentional ways, we invite God to search us and know us and (eventually) to lead us into resurrection life. The ashes marking our foreheads carry the same meaning contained in the Old Testament practice of covering oneself with ashes: they are an outward sign of an inward repentance and mourning as we become aware of our sin. This, too, is good for us because we live in so much denial. Facing our sin in the shadow of Christ’s cross and impending resurrection is the healthiest way to deal with our sin.

The inner dynamics of Lent have to do with fasting or abstaining from the ways we normally distract ourselves from what’s really going on in our lives spiritually — the reality of our sin and the deeply patterned behaviors that keep us from our calling to follow Christ. We allow some of the external trappings of our lives to be stripped away so that we can find our true identity and calling in God once again. We acknowledge the subtle temptations to which we are prone rather than pretending we are beyond temptation. We face the spiritual reality of the battle being waged for our very souls.”

Ruth Haley Barton in “Returning to God with All Our Hearts: Preparing for a Holy Lent” blog post dated 21 February 2017.

What does this have to do with generosity?

Remember that God does not need our money, He wants us to give him our hearts. When we come to Him in repentance and then pursue a season of giving, prayer, and fasting, it helps “reset” our lives. We take hold of our true identity, and through these experiences He transforms us into His generous people.

Let the Lenten journey begin (and do reply if you want PDF copies of the Lent Calendar, Lent Guide, and Lent Companion that Jenni and I have put together).