Today was Ash Wednesday. It was rather weird not attending a church service where ashes were placed in the shape of a cross on my forehead. I kind of missed that.
However, I haven’t forgotten about Lent. I still want to observe the 40 days leading up to Easter and spend some extra time reflecting on God. To help me do this, I’ve taken up reading and praying through a devotional book called ONE. It is the result of a large-scale collaboration project between 25 of the English-speaking, international churches in Hong Kong. That is a testimony in and of itself!
Today’s devotion was about preparation. (Seems fitting!) The goal behind it was to place us in John the Baptist’s “shoes” and learn what it means to put Jesus first and ourselves second. “He must increase, and I must decrease.” (John 3:30) I totally agree. At least in theory.
The problem is that I am nearly always doing things for myself. I know in my head that God loves me no matter what I do or don’t do. But I guess I still want to please Him and show Him I’m wholeheartedly His. It’s almost as if I feel like I need to earn His love. (Which no one needs to do by the way.) I guess this looks like a place for the Holy Spirit to step in and do the work in my heart and life that I can’t do by myself!
The other cool thing about today’s devotion is that it reminded me of a message I heard from Noah Ward, a teacher at the International Christian School. He gave a message about being third. It was simple and straightforward: God first, others second, ourselves third. Noah even had business cards made so we can keep them in our wallets as a reminder each time we open it that we should be living with a servant heart. I still have that card, two years later.
“Lord, help me live fully for you, as a response to the fullness of love you have for me. Amen.”