Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Ash Wednesday



I’m looking at a jar of charred wood. It is from an eave of my church, near the spot where my son was playing with fire.

Within a year or so a new building will rise where the old one stood. Something new out of the ashes.

I watched The Passion last night. My children did not come with me. That is OK. I am humbled once again at the enormity of God’s love. I will watch it again on Good Friday. I am humbled that out the greatest horror, the greatest of sins, when men had the audacity to lay hands upon God incarnate, the Lord made something wonderful happen.

Humbled that He would do that, and include me in that grace.

I’m reading a passage from the Bible tonight...

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. --Philippians 2:1-3

There has been discouragement this past year, and encouragement. Discomfort and comfort. There have been tears and joys.

Most of this passage is pretty easy to take. But that last part... “...Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

That’s a little tougher.

I have tried to be humble. In fact, I think I am a little proud of my humility.

How’s that?!

I call myself Curious Servant. That is how I want to be known. Look at me! See how humble I am!

I’m sitting here with a cross on my forehead, made of the ashes from our burned church.

I strut through my life, trying to be great, and it’s all foolishness. I want to help shape the new look of our school. I want to run my tv show and after school clubs and lead a Sunday school class... and why is that? Is it all because of a desire to serve? Or do I crave attention?

Is there anything I have that I should be proud of? Is there anything I do, or think, or create, or make, or feel, that makes me special? Or is everything I have a gift from my Lord? Isn’t all I have, when it is at its best, at its purest, at its most wholesome, of God and not of me?

This isn’t going to be long post. I don’t want to put a lot of lovely words together.

I want to just record a few thoughts tonight before I go to bed.

God loves me despite my arrogance, despite my pride. He is pleased most when I use His grace to honor Him.

That is all. That is everything.

I want to be an honest servant.

I need to seek opportunities to quietly wash feet.



31 comments:

Live, Love, Laugh said...

We just saw the Passion again!!

curious servant said...

Not easy.

But worth it.

What love...

Hikingalong said...

Amen. Thank you again for your transparency and your honest. You bless me continually.

David said...

I will say this with all the respect and understanding that I can - you need to let the past go and only look to the future. It does no good to go and view the ashes for what will rise will be a testament to GOD. Let it go, move forward.

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves" I have absolutely no problem doing this.

curious servant said...

I think we are like some sort of piece of metal, a sword or something. And we have battles in our lives, times when we are defending ourselves, and the metal gets bent.

Sometimes we are [placed on the blacksmith's forge and are hammered, and heated, and hammered again.

And even though we can see nothing there any longer, when we run our fingers over the spot we can feel the spot where we were hurt.

Perhaps I do dwell on these things too much.

But that was no metaphor about the ashes, we really did use the ashes from the building last night.

And I have no objection to that.

The building is still there, charred, damaged. So am I. So is my family.

Brenda still struggles. Isaac is depressed suggesting he would rather not be alive. Jeremiah struggles with some embarrassment, and fears that he will get nothing for his birthday tomorrow.

This event is six months in the past, and it is in the now.

I think it is right for me to drink deeply of the cup He gives me. Even if the taste is bitter, I need to take it in.

This blog probably seems like I am fixated on this. I don't think that is true.

This is my on line journal, the place where I put these thoughts, work through them.

The truth my life is very filled with other issues. I have things going on with kids after school three times a week. I get to work at 6:15 each morning and get home sometime between 5:00 and 6:30 each night. I grade papers on weekends and I hustle through a myriad of other meetings, mens group, prayuer group, prayer times.

David, I know you mean the best for me. I am grateful for your comment and concern.

This is just the place where I digest the stuff of life and faith and so it makes for a slanted reading of my life.

I hope this makes a little sense. I'm a very glass half full kind of guy and an optimist. But I also take a hard look at everything that comes along.

God bless.

Ame said...

CS, I want to affirm your above comment. I've had to work through things from the past, too. They took a long, long time. Some I'm not worked all the way through yet. God gifted me with an amazing circle of close friends who do not tire of how long it takes me to work through my pain. Many things take a very long time. I thought the tangible picture of using the ashes from the charred wood from the fire was beautiful . . . I could feel the bitterness and pain that needed to be felt to be released, once again, through your words. You are wise, and your wisdom and discernment will be a well of healing for you and your wife and your sons. Someday . . . someday it will be a memory of the past, healed. There is no hurry to get to Someday.

Bad Alice said...

Some traumas we don't let go of entirely, because they continue to teach us for many years. Like Christ's passion--we return to it every year to remember the importance of that sacrifice, to remember that something does indeed rise from the ashes.

SocietyVs said...

I was watching Oprah's dvd with my wife, I personally don't like Oprah, but some of her stories/headlines hit home for me. It was then that I remembered I have seen more tragic events unfold before me, on TV, than generations prior to me.

It made me relize something very significant, something we all throw out at times, sacrifice. These people in Columbine, Oklahoma bombing, and The 9-11 terrorism acts were in a sense sacrifices of human decency in the plight of bad things around them..reminded me of Christ.
These people did go to work and lived their normal lives not expecting this horror to befall them...they were (in a sense) innocent and undeserving in face of the tragedy. It brought tears to my eyes just knowing some of the real stories that happened in these events...of the deaths and the lives spared. I couldn't help but realize the reality of the cross (being shown to me in such a tragic fashion).
These were real people that died, not just stories we write about and then forget. In that same line of thinking Jesus was a real person that lived and died that one fateful day in Jerusalem. I understand the sacrifice, not because of a movie depiction (I haven't seen the Passion), but because it's lived out on my TV set in the news so often. I know they are different sacrifices but essentially horror destroyed them all. I can relate to the story of Jesus' death when I see the real stories in front of me; people losing their lives in the face of evil plots by evil men. Reminds me that both life is worth living fully (for the dead have not this chance again) and that my faith grew from a man 'with holes in his hands' and in the face of that pain, still forgave. Just a lesson in the reality of the cross.

FTS said...

The Passion was one of the most moving experiences of my life. I've never seen a crowded theatre of people sit motionless while the credits rolled afterward. I felt sorry for those who treated it as any other movie and had bought popcorn and hot dogs. The food went uneaten, but the lesson was worth the waste.

From all troubles there is a lesson to be learned, and all things will be used to His glory.

Lorna said...

you wrote this on another blog but I'd love to hear more (or see photos)

"We have a prayer room in our church. The walls are covered with art and prayers. We repaint it each year, regardless of how beautiful the art is."

It remeinded me that when Jesus was transfigured Peter wanted to build a place to stay there and worship but Jesus told him that we have to come down to the real world. Painting over art sounds terrible but it's a way of not makinghte past an idol ...

curious servant said...

Good idea Lorna!

I'll share.

In fact I will be there early tomorrow morning. Perhaps I'll bring a camera.

4evergapeach said...

CS, I am just at a loss for words but I wanted to let you know you remain in my prayers.

There is another site I really think you should go read, especially her most recent post. She also is living through struggles. But you will so very much identify with her writing. Her site can be found at:
http://miss_suzy.typepad.com/my_weblog/

God Bless~

curious servant said...

Thank you... I'll go peek.

jollybeggar said...

"God loves me despite my arrogance, despite my pride. He is pleased most when I use His grace to honor Him.

That is all. That is everything.

I want to be an honest servant.

I need to seek opportunities to quietly wash feet."

yep, i hear you. thanks for your words, man.

shalom

Coco said...

There are so many opportunities to quietly wash another's feet... I'm sure that you are surrounded by many opportonities to this on a daily basis, and that you do take these opportunities to be God's servant.

Blessings.

Little Boy said...

wow, ur blog has really changed, since I visited it many times ago.

curious servant said...

A Note about Little boy...

He lives in Tehran. Young, enthusiastic...

It's fun to get his perspective on current events.

He did an interesting poll a few months ago about how folks view his country.


It's fascinating how the internet can jump across borders and cultures.

David said...

Was not and never will judge - I just want you to see that good can come from tragedy. Your struggles and the struggles of your family are real and I understand that.

What shiny new car?

curious servant said...

I understand that David. I see a lot of good coming from it already.

But it is also difficult.

Today is Jeremiah's birthday. (17)

Breanda isn't really in the mood for it.

That comes from the events of this past summer.

Thank you for your prayers.

You are a good fellow.

Vicki said...

Your posts are always thought-provoking and real. I like that about you. You make us think, search, pray more. I often wonder if my writing is just an effort to get people to look at me, and say gee, doesn't she love the Lord?....when all along, inside, I'm fumbling towards heaven, reaching with all I've got, messing up, full of contradictions, yet trusting Him with my very life. A heart is deceitfully wicked, who can know it? Ah, but the grace of God! Powerful, searching, knowing, and forgiving!! He sees the intent of our hearts (to honor Him with whatever we bring) and He just loves on us, purifying motives where needed.

Thanks for putting your heart out there. You ARE an honest servant, my brother.

Pirate said...

Man did you hit a favorite of mine. I have always pondered the same as I believe most followers in Christ do or have. We must always remember to worship and admire the Creator and not necessarily the creation. The creation is viewed through the hue of human experience and lends itself to the asthetic beauty that is contrived from the aggregate experience and how we percieve ourselves in that aggregate. The Creator gives without influence and provides without proclamation.

I have been a Chrisitan as long as I can possibly remember and have always thought it hypocritical of myself and other followers to put the religious tenants and the displayed trinkets at any level equal or in conflict with God.

There is a saying that runs through the life blood of my family and I am sure you have heard it many times yourself, "Be humble or be humbled".

G~ said...

God bless. :)

throughhiseyes said...

I continue to keep you and your family in my prayers. God Bless you.
Donna

~m2~ said...

i have tried to think of a comment but the words are simply not coming. your transparency and honesty are about as real as the feelings we all have but dare not put a voice to.

you continue to inspire, even in (in spite of? because of?) your humility.

Christopher said...

" . . . I’ve gone blind, had amnesia, . . ." what were these stories. you'll dance again. walk and stay on you feet now, for he gives strength enough to walk and not grow faint.

Judas Hate said...

You aren't great because of your gifts given you from God.

You are great because you use your gifts given from God to in turn serve HIM.

Maybe that's why he has given you so many gifts. Because he knew you would use them wisely.

I think we know we can't be like him, only try to follow his example as best we (as his likeness) can. That's why (I think) we question ourselves so critically when we try our best to be his image. We are humbled because we cannot achieve what he has, no matter our effort or sacrafices. Then again, we weren't meant to. Only to strive to come as close as we can.

Love to you and your beautiful family.
J.

Judas Hate said...

P.S. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO JEREMIAH!!!

curious servant said...

Thanks Justice!

I especially ike the last comment.

Julana said...

"I need to seek opportunities to quietly wash feet."
Me, too.

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