Day 1: Ash Wednesday, February 22, 2023
Scripture: For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. (1 Thessalonians 4:15 NRSV)
Devotion: My memories of Lent eight years ago are the most bittersweet for me. It was the last time I got a picture of my daughter and me together. Ash Wednesday is the start of Lent; that year, it was another time of bad weather ravaging the area. Roads were caked with cobblestone ice, and I had made it home from work after a minor scare I had driving down an incline, hitting a curb, and banging up a knee.
Newscasters were begging people to stay home, but my car-less daughter, Tabitha, wanted to attend the night service to celebrate Ash Wednesday. I told her there was no way I was getting out on those roads again (after all, I had also gone by her place to check on her beforehand), especially in the dark. But after a heated argument….something changed my mind (could it have been her crying and pleading that softened my heart?)
At church, Tabitha sat up front from me (still mad at me for having begged to attend the evening services), but I could see her devotion and attention to the service, which touched my soul. As I took her home, I got two pictures of us in the car with our anointed foreheads. Those were the last pictures we ever had of us together. She died between Ash Wednesday and Passover.
I believe at death, someone we know that passed before us guides us to heaven, and I was heavyhearted that Tabitha might have died alone; I needed to know if my deceased dad or someone else close was there with her.
On Good Friday, when I sat to do my morning devotional, I opened one of her well-marked-up and personally illustrated bibles to read, and it opened to the book of Acts 9:40-41 where Dorcas (also called Tabitha) was raised from the dead by Peter. In the margins, my Tabitha had written, “Tabitha raised from the dead by Peter!” I don’t believe in coincidences; God assured me that Tabitha wasn’t alone!
Prayer: Since Lent leads us to Passover and the resurrection of Christ, let us remember during that season all those that have gone before us and that we don’t have a false hope of meeting again due to the price Jesus the Christ paid for us and the road he paved. Amen.