During the Ash Wednesday service at Queenstown Lutheran Church, Rev Lim Kim Hock marked my forehead with black ashes in the sign of the cross and said, "Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return." This brought to mind my hospice patients I had seen earlier in the day. It is so true that unless and until we come to terms with our mortality, we cannot live our lives meaningfully. In psalm 39:4 the psalmist cried out, "Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered - how fleeting my life is."
After the service, Rev Lim told us that we are not to clean off the cross but to let it fade away on its own. I was reminded of the Upper Room devotion for Ash Wednesday I had read earlier in the morning - that the cross is to mark us as members of Christ's family and to remind us of our responsibility to live as witnesses for Christ. I wondered if I would have the courage to go to work the next day with the cross marked on my forehead.
When I woked up the next morning, I came across the following passage from David Eckman's book, "Knowing The Heart Of The Father":
"By faith, we must confidently and transparently come into the presence of God the Father. Whether we are struggling with lesbianism or homosexuality or pornography or an eating disorder or a thousand other weaknesses, we bring those problems to the Father to be sorted out - because we believe He does not define His relationship to us based on our problems but on the righteousness provided by Christ."
Then, as I looked into the mirror, I found to my surprise, that the cross on my forehead has gone! This gave me the insight that true faith is based on what Christ has done for us on the cross and not what we expect God to do with our problems. David Eckman made the very important point that "God does not see us the way we see ourselves” and that “God is not evaluating us and giving us black marks.” God is patiently waiting for us to come to Him as His child.
Later that morning, I was further encouraged by the following prayer of Esher Shoshannah:
"Dear, dear Beloved Lord Jesus, my heart is overwhelmed by such thoughts. I overflow with joy and adoration for You. Cause me to see more and more of what You see in me. Cause me to grow in my surrender to You. Take out all things that do not please You. I love You too much to have anything knowingly come between us and disappoint Your heart! Thank You, Father for having set me in Your plan for my life,"
Thank God for the lesson this Ash Wednesday that I may be made of dust but Christ came to give me new life as a child of God.