Want What You’ve Got! (Lent)

One year at camp I heard a pastor share a version of the Ten Commandments stated positively. Instead of saying Thou Shalt Not, this rendition of the original top-Ten list spun God’s commands in such a way that discipline-averse folks might embrace them.

I didn’t write them down. I haven’t been able to find them worded quite the way they were spoken that year at camp. But one of them – the positive interpretation of Thou Shalt Not Covet – burned itself onto my heart around the campfire and continues to send sparks flying each time my green-eyed monster rears its greedy little head:

Want what you’ve got.

The season of Lent has begun on this day with ashes from last year’s Palm Sunday fingerpainted on my forehead; the shape of a cross barely visible in the dark & oily mess as I lean into the mirror for a closer look. My first inclination is to grab a tissue and wipe it off – it’s as if I’ve got a billboard on my face that reads “this is as good as it gets, people.” Dust, dirt, sin, grease. On display for everyone to see.

I want to wipe it off!
I want to fit in when I walk into Safeway for a gallon of milk on the way home.
I want to look normal to the majority of people who didn’t go to church today.
I want to like what I see when I look in the mirror, or in my refrigerator, or at my checkbook, or closet, or scale, or when I look into the eyes of my loved ones at home.

Truth be told – I want a lot of things. I spend an enormous amount of time, energy and resources on acquiring those things. But then what?

When today’s purchases are hanging in the closet, lined up on the pantry shelves or plugged in beside my bed – then what?

Honestly? I want more.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to want what you’ve got? I have.
Today I can’t help but wonder how my life might be different if I were brave enough to believe God when He says:

“Just think – you don’t need a thing, you’ve got it all! All God’s gifts are right in front of you as you wait expectantly for our Master Jesus to arrive on the scene for the Finale. And not only that, but God himself is right alongside to keep you steady and on track until things are all wrapped up by Jesus. God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of his Son and our Master Jesus. He will never give up on you. Never forget that.” I Corinthians 1:7-9 (the Message)

A spiritual adventure beckons today for those of us who feel the Father’s heartbeat in our chests, though all we can see in these mirrors of ours is an ashy, oily smudge where the glory of God ought to be.

What if, for the next 40 days, we were to climb out of and into our bedcovers with this positive commandment in front of us all day long… Want What You’ve Got.

What if, between now and Easter Sunday, we were to choose what we already have over the temptation to buy more, take more, spend more?

And what if, while wanting what we’ve already got, we were to discover that God has given us everything we need?

How might we be different? How might we be changed?

How about we find out… together!

Watch for devotional thoughts and challenges to be posted here every weekday during Lent. Don’t want to miss a post? Subscribe to Pink Shoes Ministries’s blog and have each Want What You’ve Got post delivered to your email inbox.

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What a Word!

I ushered in the season of Lent from a unique vantage point today.

Holding a small dish filled with a mixture of last year’s celebratory palm branches and oil, I finger-painted ashy crosses on the bared foreheads of broken people for whom Jesus came to die.

In church-language, what I did is known as imposition of the ashes.

Imposition. What a word!

To force an unfair or unwelcome demand or burden on another.

To bother, strain, hassle, inflict.

An unreasonable situation that you are expected to accept.

Imposition.

As I imposed the oily mark of the cross on members of my faith family, it registered deeply that the life Jesus calls us into sometimes feels like an imposition. To daily take up my own cross and follow my Savior’s lead can be a bother – when what I feel like doing isn’t cross-related at all.

Bearing the mark of the cross on my life inflicts hardship at times, which if I’m honest, can seem very much like an unreasonable request.

The cross demands my life in ways I’m not always eager to give, which can be a real burden – especially when my own agenda must be set aside in order to hoist it up on my tired shoulders – yet again.

I wrestle with the part of me that prefers to be in charge when it comes to gracefully accepting the discomfort and certain pain connected to this instrument of death. I’d actually prefer to wear a bejeweled version around my neck and smile back at you instead of imposing its shape on your forehead, too.

But then I remember…

These ashes of death on my forehead today have been redeemed by the One who willingly took the mark of my sintalk about an imposition! – and buried it all in the grave. His cross-life gave way to a cross-death so that my dust-&-ash existence might be resurrected in His victory over every lie that says my destiny, like my history, is nothing but dirt.

So, I will shoulder my awkward, bulky cross again tomorrow because God believes in me, Jesus Himself is calling me, and His Presence gives me the strength to take one more step in His direction…

Ashes and all.