Have you ever heard the phrase, “Life is about the dash”? It refers to that small, horizontal mark on a gravestone between the day we’re born and the day we die.
Squeezed between those two dates, the dash punctuates a middle. A middle that God can make extraordinary as we return to Him with our ordinary. And that’s what our current season in the Christian calendar, Lent, is all about.
Lent begins with solemn Ash Wednesday and wearing ashes on our foreheads in the shape of the cross.
Wearing ashes on our foreheads reflects a biblical practice of putting ashes on one’s head when a person is returning to God or repenting. Jesus talked about this in Luke 10:13 and Matthew 11:21, and this ash-practice peppers the Bible, from Old Testament to New.
Wearing ashes in a cross shape reminds us Jesus offers us the ability to not just repent but to be made new.
We can learn more about how we live the new, extraordinary “dash” that Jesus made possible from a close look at Jesus’ own days on earth.
Two people who saw the dash differently intersected with Jesus’ earthly ministry. The first is the Rich Young Ruler. He runs up to Jesus, kneels before Him, and asks, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus instructs the man to follow all of God’s commandments. The man says he has! Then, “Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him.”
In His love for this man, Jesus saw what the man’s dash needed: “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come follow me.”
This very wealthy man was holding tightly to his dash. It was a golden dash with filigree, and he liked it very much. He couldn’t imagine enjoying anything more, not even inheriting eternal life. (Mark 10:17-29)
The next life that Jesus intersected was a widow’s (Mark 12:41-44). I love the idea of Him sitting on the ground next to the Temple collection box, just people-watching. Then she appears.
“Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins.”
Jesus could not let this moment pass. “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions,” He said. “For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.”
Now here’s a woman who understands how to live out her dash.
Like with the rich man, it wasn’t about the money; it was about the heart. The rich man asked what he must do to receive eternal life. The widow asked for nothing and gave all.
Jesus gave all and empowered us to make our dash about giving that way, too.
This Lent, will you join me in asking God to bring our dashes even more into the new, extraordinary pattern of Christ’s life? Because Stonecroft is about ordinary people living with extraordinary purpose by connecting with God, each other, and our communities, will you “Lent” for others’ sake too?
How can we this Lent give our priorities to God, making this season even more focused on loving others toward that new, extraordinary dash that they too can celebrate, alongside, at Easter?
How to find hope for our dash? Let’s ask God to illuminate our ordinary dash for His extraordinary purpose: to love others this Lent in deed and word toward new life we can celebrate together at Easter.
How do you relate to the Rich Young Ruler? What is something so good in your life you can’t imagine taking your fingers off it, even if God instructs you to for your own benefit?
How can you understand the poor widow? When have you given it all away or seen someone you admire give it all? What happened?
Notice Jesus encouraged people to put on the ashes of repentance. How might you ask God to show you what you may need to turn away from so you might turn more completely to Him and share His love more enthusiastically and regularly this season?