Ash Wednesday & Valentine’s Day: Two Great Rivers That Meet in Jesus

Ash Wednesday & Valentine’s Day: Two Great Rivers That Meet in Jesus

Lent has traditionally been a time for believers to consider, in humility, who we truly are before the Lord. It’s a time for acknowledging our need, our ‘lostness’ without Him. It reminds us of Jesus words, “Apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). All that we are and all that we shall become is due solely to the mercy of God that has been lavished upon us in the Cross of Christ. And so, we use these weeks to contemplate, to prepare our hearts for Holy Week and all it means to us.

Ashes are all about humility. They remind us that God is holy and we are, well, not. They represent reverence in a time of national crisis. Think Mordecai in deep concern for the future of his fellow Israelites: “Mordecai tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and he cried out with a loud and bitter cry” (Esther 4:1).

Ashes also bespeak the believer’s personal contrition before God. After finally coming to terms with God’s sovereignty, love and mercy, Job declared: “I take back my words and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6, HCSB).

But let’s be careful here. While ashes signify our humility before God, it’s the humility of our hearts that God desires, not merely ‘ashy’ foreheads. Man sees the forehead; God sees the heart.

While some Christian Lenten traditions are marked by “giving something up” for Lent, I think the point is that we give more of ourselves to Jesus during this season – most importantly, our time. This might mean reading a special devotional, or an increased commitment to follow the blogs and interact with other members of the Body, or serving the Lord in some new way. Whatever we choose to do, let’s use these weeks to consider our ever-present need for Him.

Today, Ash Wednesday, also happens to be Valentine’s Day, a day set aside to celebrate love. I was thinking this morning about how interesting this confluence is! It’s like two great rivers coming together: our sinfulness and God’s love! For truly, in Jesus, “lovingkindness and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed each other” (Psalm 85:10).

While Ash Wednesday reminds me of my sinfulness and constant need the Father’s mercy, Valentine’s Day reminds me of the unimaginable love that He has for me. It’s the love that sent Jesus into the world to die for me. And it’s the love that reminds me, day-after-day through His word: “Gene, you’re My valentine!”

Psalm 103:11-13:

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth,

so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;

as far as the east is from the west,

so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

As a father shows compassion to his children,

so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.

For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.”


Father, thank you that these two great rivers meet together in Christ Jesus, our Savior!



  1. One of the greatest ironies in the journey of Christ-following is that the more we lose of ourselves, the greater abundance we experience. While “alone time” with our Lord nourishes us, a selfish refusal to be poured out for others is akin to self imposed solitary confinement. Jesus gave all of Himself,so we would never be lost (completely alone forever). He, the Living Word, is the greatest love letter ever written, one meant to be shared with others. So as I sit in quietness, I ask Him to show me who I can share His love with today.

  2. Last night there was a news report about local churches that have set up a drive-thru to deliver ashes. Some will even provide coffee along with the ashes! I suppose providing convenient, time-saving access for the penitent to fulfill their obligation seems practical. But do convenience and penitence really belong in the same sentence? I love the line Pastor Gene put in the blog, “While ashes signify our humility before God, it’s the humility of our hearts that God desires, not merely ‘ashy’ foreheads. Man sees the forehead; God sees the heart.”

  3. So often on this day I have heard people say, “I have only one valentine, my wife, significant other, etc.” – you fill in the blank. I used to give cards and notes to many people on this day and was often laughed at for it. But thinking about it today, and reading the blog and Kerin’s comment, shouldn’t we be showing love to everyone on this day (well, yes and every day for that matter)? It’s who we are called to be…..and I’m not talking about buying cards, candy, and flowers for everyone we know, but really, can we take a moment to think of someone who really needs our encouragement or who needs to be shown the love of Jesus today and intentionally go after them? I’m joining with Kerin, in quietness, and asking him, “Who, Lord?”

    • Kathryn Boisvert : February 14, 2018 at 8:08 pm

      It was just a small thing but Anne & I visited Mae a dear friend at the nursing home yesterday. And I just wanted her to know, well we both did that shes very special she can still be usedby God, even in the twilight years of her life. We encouraged her to know that Jesus loves her so much that he’s with her always! For example she is filled with the Holy Spirit so Mae can certainly encourage others that don’t know Christ. I also felt like it was appropriate to wish my mother-in-law a happy Valentine’s Day. I told her she was the best mother-in-law in the world and how much I loved her. We have to be careful not just to categorize Valentine’s Dayas a day set aside just for sweethearts or for spouses. It is God’s love that we can pour out from his Holy Spirit into others lives.

  4. Love, without it and regardless of all other gifts and abilities, we are jut making a lot of noise, 1 Cor. 13:1-4. Love is a debt that we will always owe as stated in Romans 13:8, ” Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” Verse 10, ” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” It is also the mark of a true disciple, John 13:34,35.
    As my wife wrote, we don’t pick and choose those who we love.

  5. Hey gang! I received this email from our dear sister Marla Robinson this morning and asked for her permission to share it. She was happy to have me do so.

    P. Gene

    Marla’s e-mail:

    I am so glad I read your post this morning. I feel so far away from the Lord right now, but what joy this brought me today. First, Psalm 85:10 is a verse that I have carried around in my heart for many years. So much so that I printed it out years back and franed it, it is hung under one of my favorite paintings as reminder of the beauty of the gift of God’s love and all we have to do is reach out to Him.

    Ashes – Ash Wednesday always reminds me of Sacramento, and the farmers would burn the rice fields, because the rice takes the minerals out of the ground. Burning the plants and rotating the crops purifies the ground, and brings the minerals back.

    Much like the farmers, God for centuries has purified us through our trials of fire and used this time of lent, and ashes, not as a time of “giving something up” but more of reflection of what God gave up for us at this time of the season. This is true Love, and a time of purifying our hearts.

    Miss and love all of you,

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