“You are off track. Recalculating.”
Ash Wednesday: February 13, 2013
Just a few days ago, I rented a car to reach a vacation spot with my husband. I had the directions figured out with my rented GPS to the place of destination. When I was close to arriving, I made a wrong turn. A gentle but firm voice said, “You are off track.” Then there was a pause. A second or two later, I heard the voice again; this time it reassured me, saying, “Recalculating.” There was no blame, no reproach, and no abandonment. I made a few more wrong turns. The voice never gave up on me, and soon I arrived at our destination. This GPS guided and stayed with me until I completed my journey.
Tryst with Self
Ash Wednesday is about taking time to make sure we are on the right track in our own Godward journeys. It is about checking to see whether we are on track with the purpose for which we are made, to set aside all that distracts us or works against our calling in Christ, and to allow ourselves to be centered on the right path.
In the highway called the mundane, it is easy to lose our way. Sometimes we may not have someone caring enough in our lives to ask us those questions that help us reflect: “Are you on track?” or “How is it with your soul?”
Ash Wednesday invites us to set apart some time for a tryst with ourselves to make way for the voice of the Holy Spirit to be heard, from the distant margins of our lives to the center of our lives, from the cacophony of competing voices to the core of one’s baptismal calling for mission. It requires a shift by grace on our part. Repentance serves as the key.
Ambassadors for Christ
St. Paul describes the identity of Christians as one of being ambassadors of Christ. To live out our Christian calling takes a bold commitment and daily discipleship. It calls for re-thinking, re-orientation, and re-calculation.
When cultural elements and global cross-currents are reshaping our society, being ambassadors of Christ means learning a new mind-set. It is to be in touch with the source of the gentle, whispering voice, and serve as Christ’s mouthpiece and reconciling presence.
Ash Wednesday is a milestone in time for a spiritual restoration and inner renewal. We can use it
- to re-orient ourselves with the vision of God’s transforming activities in the world,
- to de-junk everything that works contrary to this vision,
- to de-clutter our lives in order to allow the Holy Spirit to create a clean heart in us,
- to let the Holy Spirit “re-calculate” and set us back on track on our Godward journeys, and
- to recommit ourselves to God’s intervening grace with our joyful and public expressions of mission with women, children and youth.
Let us enter into this Godward journey this Lent with Jesus journeying with us, angels hovering over us, saints cheering us, into the new world which is God’s making and which is being birthed in our midst. We are ambassadors of this Christ who makes everything new. We are God’s grace in motion.
When we are told, we are “off track,” may we listen to the timely voice and allow ourselves to be re-directed Godward. Amen.
Glory E. Dharmaraj, Ph.D., is director of spiritual formation and mission theology for United Methodist Women.