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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Strippers and Billboards

Oh, dear sweet friends, it's Ash Wednesday.  What am I doing with a title like this?  Let me explain...

Today I was at a nursing home in Indiana having my hair cut.  It just gets better... I promise...

So, as I was sitting in the chair, Mel (my cosmetologist) began to talk about strippers and how there had been some sort of local controversy, because some of the women at a nearby strip club were not in the proper condition to strip for money.  Immediately, I knew this was what I would write about, tonight.  I told Mel.  She laughed, because she knew it was true.  It took me a couple of hours to figure out how it all fit together, though...

Lent is a season for stripping.  Goodness gracious, not our clothes, but stay with me...

I have recently been gently and lovingly informed that I am too hard on myself.  Listen to me.  I am made of dirt!  So are you.  It's OK.

On Ash Wednesday, "Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return." (see Genesis 3:19)


"Even now, declares the Lord, 'return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning'.  Rend your heart..." (Joel 2:12-13a, NIV). 

We don't really want to be exposed.  It's ugly.  We don't want to be exposed before the Lord, and we sure as heck don't want to be exposed in front of other people.  But to be rent is to be torn apart, split, divided, disturbed, distressed... forcefully, even violently.  No one looks good enough when this is happening.  No one looks presentable when it is finished.  Lent is about reflection.  It is about honesty and transparency.  It is about passion and contemplation.  Emptying ourselves.  Because ultimately it is about preparation - preparation for sharing in Christ's death.

I am in no condition to share my heart.  Sometimes my narrative stinks!  But this is exactly when I should be sharing most. 

Paul's words to the Corinthians are sort of incredible:

"We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited.  Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love;  in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left;  through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors;  known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything" (II Corinthians 6:3-10, NIV). 

I think my favorite phrase here is, "And yet we live on..."

We need to do this... this living on... because Lent is also about the preparation for sharing in Christ's resurrection.

As I was leaving the nursing home, Mel told me that I could be her billboard, because... you know... I travel 222 miles to have her cut my hair.  In the end, I think we all know that I would make a scary billboard (even if I am currently sporting the cutest haircut I have ever had), but this has me thinking about how far we all might travel during this season of Lent to more accurately reflect the work that God is doing in our lives.

Strippers and billboards...  Who knew?

"Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me" (Psalm 51:12, NIV), because I sure need it...


  1. Oh how you turned this into a great message! Sometimes I wonder where I come up with things but I guess I just roll with it! I have some of the same issues. We have talked inepth at times and you are still my friend and travel 222 miles to let me torture you and your child! I love you and thank you for always being there for me! I can strip all the walls and keep it real and send you out to be my billboard! Hugs! Can't wait till next time!