We’re still in the preparation time before Lent, a pre-Lent leading up to Ash Wednesday. Our Lent Devotional for Women today is going to focus on the dust in our lives. Of course we can draw similarities between soul dust and the ashes used for Ash Wednesday. That dust–those ashes remind us that from dust we came and from dust we shall return. A side note in our Lent Devotional today, I read someone making the point that the ashes are so fine and easily dispersed–a lot like our lives. I would like to say, whoever wrote that article has obviously never met some of my former pastors who seemed to take great delight in large, dark crosses across the forehead of their spiritual children. All that to say, thoughts of Ash Wednesday, have me thinking about the dirt around our little farm, which led to thinking about dust in and on my soul–soul dust.
Lent Devotional for Women: Soul Dust
It’s interesting each year we live here on this old dairy farm. There’s always work to be done and what may seem like a simple, straightforward job, almost always reveals that there is more work to be done–much like the spiritual life. It’s also interesting the things we find buried–much like the spiritual life. This year’s devotions for Lent are meant to slowly and gently reveal those hidden spiritual treasures, some good and some maybe not so good.
Each season here on the farm reveals a new layer of dirt. After a heavy rain the top layer of dirt gets washed away or at least re-situated revealing a new layer underneath. Digging up a new place to add raised garden beds always yields surprise buried treasures…or buried junk. Even just the natural wear and tear the ground sustains under the weight of seven happy children playing a pickup game of soccer, skidding their bike to a halt on the fresh spring grass or the dog digging for moles, occasionally unearths a forgotten or discarded item. The kids have found an old horseshoe, metal pipe, broken whatnots, nails, coins, and even a ring. Obviously, some of those treasures were met with greater excitement than others.
As my thoughts turned more inward than usual toward my soul during the writing of this Lent Devotional for Women, I considered the dust and dirt of my soul. I also thought of the washing away that follows a snow or rain. A layer of seemingly intact dirt can suddenly reveal…well who knows what. Even though just right below the surface, it always comes as a surprise! Again, much like my own spiritual life.
As layers of soul dust are dispersed with cleansing tears, a rearranging of my spiritual priorities, a cleaning ‘house’ through confession or wear from everyday life, a little more of my soul is revealed to me. Sometimes these revelations are a pleasant surprise, like when I learned I could start accepting or rejecting random thoughts that would pop into my mind. Or that I could actually choose what I wanted to think about and not be held captive by whatever junk popped into my mind. Those revelations by the way came only through some heavy downpours of tears.
During one season, spending time with my Father in His Word revealed I needed to work on gentleness. This revelation was a side benefit of daily making the decision to read my Bible and daily devotional. It’s amazing the benefits of living steady–doing the next thing or the next right thing. Surprisingly, there was no violent wind or rain storm to unearth this problem, just a natural erosion through the means of daily life; sometimes those are the ones that take me most by surprise! I wasn’t asking God to show me a weak area or praying about a problem I had with gentleness; I just happened across it while going about my day.
And, just as there have been times when something unseen and yet dangerous, like a rusty nail, has been found just under the surface, so too with these soul dustings. Unearthing the threats of sin and vice, hopefully before too deep a would has been inflicted, can be a startling discovery.
“How long has that been there?”
“How much damage has it caused?”
“Did it hurt anyone else?”
“Is there more where that came from?”
As we slowly, gently unearth lukewarmness, sin, and vice during our devotions for Lent, the above questions are always good to ask ourselves. Once sin and vice have been revealed, don’t just walk away and allow them to take deeper root. The above questions and our answers will make it easier to diagnose the problem, hopefully find the root, and then find the healing solution.
This Lent, let’s pay attention to what God is allowing to be unearthed, the buried treasures of grace and peace and/or the hidden threats of sin and vice. We can even ask Him to gently wash away the dust that is concealing these treasures. And yes, I consider a revelation of my faults a treasure. How can I expect to grow if I don’t know what is hidden, yet holding me back?
A beneficial habit is the nightly examination of conscience. This is simply looking back over our day with the intention of learning where we grew in closer friendship with God and our brothers and sisters in Christ or where we failed to live the Christian life. When we find areas of weakness and sin, we confess them, ask for forgiveness, and resolve to do better tomorrow.
*There a number of excellent Examination of Conscience out there. We’ve made of our own that we recite a couple of times a week after our family prayer, Nightly Examen with Children.
Here are some others: