Monday, February 22, 2010

Lent Blog: Day 2

Lent, day two. My head hurts and I would love some bread right now. But that’s not what matters. It’s not about how well I ‘sacrifice’ or how righteous I can get by how much I give up, all in the name of God. If that were the case, I wouldn’t be getting anywhere. In The Great Exchange it says “One cannot earn a gift; otherwise it can no longer be called a gift. Instead, it becomes a wage deserved.”

Anyone who has been around any human longer than about two seconds realized pretty instantly, we do not deserve the gift of grace, righteousness and life. So this season of lent has to be about me accepting that gift and living in it rather than doing what I can to feel like I’ve earned it or I deserve it. Living in that allows me to live less carefully (as I heard it phrased recently). I can bask in the beauty of God and the security that I can do nothing to earn what He’s given me.

Today at school I realized that very few people know who I am or even acknowledge my presence. In each of my classes there are a few people who I would consider friends that know me. But in comparison to the rest of the student body, I’m widely unknown. Normally I would go to sin over that. Throw myself a pity-part and wonder why nobody likes me. But not today. I realized that I don’t need people to see me or say hi to me to validate my worth. These people don’t matter. I’ll probably never see them again, and it’s not like what they think will ever affect me. I don’t have to worry about them.

Also, it gives me freedom to just be still. I don’t have to throw up walls or fa├žades or try and figure out who they want me to be. Which I shouldn’t do anyway, but that’s something I’m really working on. If these random people I see don’t care, why should I? I can just learn to rest in the knowledge that God has me. God sees me. God loves me and really, why should I care about anyone else?

Granted, I do. I do a lot, actually. But I shouldn’t. More and more I’m starting to understand why I shouldn’t care. How can anyone else’s opinion of me matter or define me more than the opinion God has of me? It can’t matter. That’s a really beautiful thing.

Reading Genesis is easy. Even reading Exodus is pretty simple. It’s loaded with stuff, for sure. But I can get through it pretty quick. It’s Leviticus I can’t get through. That book creates this block that extends through Numbers and into Deuteronomy. These come around day 11. I know that because I tried this last year. I couldn’t do it. I got discouraged because I wanted to read those books, but I couldn’t do the 26 pages in a day and I didn’t want to skip. Can you believe it? I couldn’t read 26 pages. In one day. It’s a joke.

It’s a joke because I’ve read every single Harry Potter book, most of them in a single day. I didn’t just read them, but I absorbed them. I can still recall very menial details even years later. So why should those books be so easy to read, when the Bible isn’t? Because I’ve made it that way. I’ve chosen to make it hard on myself by my attitude and perception of the content I was reading. So, if that’s the only thing in my way, I’ll change it. Ask God to give me the courage to examine my heart and change it toward Bible reading. Once at that place of being willing to change and desiring to see where your heart is, it’s so easy.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Lent Blog: Day 1

Lent could not have come at a better time this year. Just in the past week I’ve been forced to confront my darkness and call out the evil that lies there. It was an ugly process. I severely dislike a) being vulnerable and b) not having all the answers. Both of which were the case. But, even though it was ugly and hard, I learned (or, rediscovered rather) some really important truths.

1) I am not my mistakes. Praise God for that. I am not the filth and darkness I choose to live in. What I am is a daughter of Christ who sometimes insists on taking the wheel. And He lets me, for a minute. Just to show me who much better life is when I’m not in control of it.
2) There is no consequence to sin. Of all the truths, this one was easiest to grasp. In all of history and in all of the future, there has been one consequence: the murder of Jesus. That’s for every sin ever committed. So why would one of my sins have more of a consequence than the bloody, horrific slaughter of the perfect, spotless Christ? It can’t. The ‘consequence’ to my sin is a better understanding of the God who loves me and closer relationship with Him, and in recent cases, the same with my parents. How is that bad? After my sin, that is hardly what I deserve, but that’s what I get. It is grace and it’s enough to make me weep.
3) I need to name my enemy. I have been tormented by darkness for much of the last year. Darkness that I have refused to acknowledge. Darkness that I have named Mak. That isn’t its name though. Through my refusal to properly address it, Mak has become a life-consuming darkness. But no more. The name of the darkness is:

-Abaddon (Revelation 9:11)
-Accuser (Revelation 12:10)
-Adversary (1 Peter 5:8)
-Apollyon (Revelation 9:11)
-Beelzebul (Matthew 12:24)
-Belial (2 Corinthians 6:15)
-Deceiver (Revelation 12:9)
-Devil (Luke: 4:13)
-Enemy (Matthew 13:28, 39)
-Father of Lies (John 8:44)

These are a few of the names. The name in and of itself isn’t important. What’s important is naming and calling out that darkness with the authority of Jesus. The end result is freedom. Pure, unadulterated light. And now that I’ve experienced that, I want it for everyone.

During the season of lent, there is quite a bit that I am doing. Some giving up, some adding to my routine. All for the glory of God. The biggest thing is Diet Coke. I’m giving up artificial sweeteners in general, but it is Diet Coke in particular. In thinking about it, I’ve come to realize that Diet Coke isn’t just a comfort (though that does play a huge part in it) but it’s also become part of my identity. I am well known for my love of Diet Coke. But how distorted and far from God have I become when a soda becomes a bigger part of my identity? That also doesn’t begin to cover the affects it’s had and is having on my body.

Also for the benefit of my body is giving up all forms of sugar, carbs and dairy. Plus the addition of actually taking my vitamins and working out six times a week. This is part cleaning out my ‘innards, and part getting rid of comfort.

Along with taking care of my body this season is taking care of my spirit. Giving up internet as much as possible (excluding school and this blog), TV (American Idol and 24 excluded, those are family shows) which basically means giving up NCIS, Star Trek and Criminal Minds, and cell phone (except for when I really need it, which probably wont be often). This is born partially out of being sacrificial, partially in order to clear away some of the noise and partially for time. I have a lot of reading to be doing. As a family, we are going through The Great Exchange (six pages a day) and personally I’m reading the Bible (26 pages a day). So today, that’s six pages of chapter 5 and Genesis 1:1-31:55. Oh, and I’m also 71 pages behind in The Great Exchange. But I’m excited because I know that it is this closeness to God that I need right now.