Making Space for a Clean Heart

Note: This was first published on Ash Wednesday as a Devotional for Edwards Church’s Lenten Devotional series “Making Space”


Ash Wednesday- The First Day of Lent

Psalm 51:10

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.

Prayer: Oh God, I am before you in the midst of my faults, my false bravado and false humility. See me for who I am, and strip away from me all that separates me from you. Give me the strength to create space for you and your love in my life, and help me to be the child of God you want me to be. Amen.

Ash Wednesday is the day in the Christian liturgical calendar (our calendar of holidays and seasons, separate from the secular calendar) that begins the penitential season of Lent, which ends with Easter Sunday, this year on April 1st. In church services all around the world, Christians are being marked with Ashes in the shape of a cross on the forehead, as a visible reminder of God’s warning to humanity in the book of Genesis that:

“By the sweat of your face

you shall eat bread

until you return to the ground,

for out of it you were taken;

you are dust,

and to dust you shall return.”


Our Lenten theme this year is “Creating Space”, and Ash Wednesday is all about Creating Space.

Ash Wednesday functions as our once a year reminder of the great truth of humanity; today we are alive, but some day we will die. It’s not something we typically like to talk about in polite (or impolite) society. Reminders of this sort don’t help sell cars, or generate Youtube views. They don’t help win elections for politicians or pack people into megachurches.


No, instead, reminders of our mortality strip away all that we surround ourselves with to make ourselves feel safe, to feel comfortable. It strips away our technology, our false bravado and our false humility. We are vulnerable, totally and utterly exposed. All of our faults, our fears, our secret shames and our guilt are as an open book to our God.


This, of course, is utterly terrifying.


But one of the God’s miracles is that God see all of this, all of us, and not just in spite of our vulnerability, but because of our vulnerability and mortality, manages to love us dearly. Through Jesus Christ, we are God’s beloved Children, and God has felt firsthand our grief, pain, and loss. God has even felt the fear of death while he was on the cross, crying out “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)The great irony, of course, is that God had not forsaken Jesus in that moment, just as Jesus Christ does not forsake us in our vulnerability and in our mortality.


As we make our spaces for God on Ash Wednesday, and throughout the year, we should keep in mind that this is not something we do alone. God has already made a space for us, a bountiful table spread before us, even as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. (Psalm 23).


Thanks be to God!