In Dust and Ashes
The Meaning of Life

Meditations in Ashes

Wood ash

Laurentius - Own work

"At that time the LORD said to me, ‘Cut for yourself two tablets of stone like the first, and come up to me on the mountain and make an ark of wood. And I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets that you broke, and you shall put them in the ark.’"

"So I made an ark of acacia wood, and cut two tablets of stone like the first, and went up the mountain with the two tablets in my hand. And he wrote on the tablets, in the same writing as before, the Ten Commandments that the LORD had spoken to you on the mountain out of the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly."

We have taken the law, written once on stone, and broken it. But if we will provide the stones, God will rewrite it so that we will understand. However, if we will bring our stony hearts to the mountain.

He will write His covenant and law there and our hearts will become softened and enlightened and we shall be transformed through truer, deeper knowledge and understanding of His ways.

"And the LORD gave them to me. Then I turned and came down from the mountain and put the tablets in the ark that I had made. And there they are, as the LORD commanded me.” - Deuteronomy 10:1-5 (ESV)

Yet, we seem to be caught in cyclical history of repentance and wandering.

Lamenting over the magnitude of injustice, oppression, and wickedness was leading the troubadour to despair. He recounts the agonizing moments that were not left to dangle in meaningless resignation and then, the psalmist declares ...

" ...But when I thought how to understand this,
it seemed to me a wearisome task,
until I went into the sanctuary of God;
then I discerned their end." - Psalm 73:15-17 (ESV)

My problem is a cold and bitter heart. It needs to be pricked. When it is, I am awakened.

"When my soul was embittered,
when I was pricked in heart,
I was brutish and ignorant;
I was like a beast toward you."

"Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." - Psalm 73:21-26 (ESV)

It is how we learn, grow, and are transformed from what we were to what we are becoming. Hard times bring us to our senses and awaken our dissatisfaction.

We see an invitation to come to God for help. We come and are delivered --- again and again.

" You have made your people see hard things;
you have given us wine to drink that made us stagger."

"You have set up a banner for those who fear you,
that they may flee to it from the bow. Selah
That your beloved ones may be delivered,
give salvation by your right hand and answer us!" -Psalm 60:3-5 (ESV)

We live from our guts. Ancient peoples believed that the gut was the seat of emotion so that to love from the heart indicated intention but "bowels of mercy" spoke of warmth and compassion - emotional responses to humanity. We make lots of choices from the gut and we believe our "gut feelings."

The psalmist prayed from the gut - tough, agonizing prayer - engaged and real:

"Save me, O God!
For the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in deep mire,
where there is no foothold;
I have come into deep waters,
and the flood sweeps over me.
I am weary with my crying out;
my throat is parched.
My eyes grow dim
with waiting for my God." - Psalm 69:1-3 (ESV)

But the struggle continues.

If it feels good, we so it. If it seems true, to us, we say it.

Such is the unrestrained life.

Such is not the disciple life.

It walks over people and offends God. If that does not bother you; go ahead and live that way. There will be consequences, but that is your choice.

It is just good to be reminded that we are making that choice lest we feel righteous in our slander and consider it something other than sin. I like to know I am sinning before sinning. It makes the choice clearer. Sometimes I kid myself.

“You give your mouth free rein for evil,
and your tongue frames deceit.
You sit and speak against your brother;
you slander your own mother's son.
These things you have done, and I have been silent;
you thought that I was one like yourself.
But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you." -Psalm 50:19-21 (ESV)

God, write Your law of love, again, upon my heart. Grant me a deep desire to know it and to do it. Grant me the strength. Grant me grace.

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