Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Slow Down and Fast.

Food is a big deal in my family. I am tempted to believe that this is symptomatic of my southern roots. In my family every social gathering, every church activity, and every holiday is planned around food and lots of it. It is safe to say that I'm a borderline food addict (not that I'm blaming), and I medicate with food which makes me an emotional eater. Suffice it to say, you can tell when I'm stressed because I'll have put on a few pounds.

I have experienced fasting only twice in my life. The first time was with a group of people whom I cherish. They made up the first small/cell/support group in our first full-time ministry. Our church was facing some big decisions. So, our little group decided to set a day where we would all fast and pray for our congregation. Then we came together that same evening and shared our experiences. I was eight months pregnant at the time and unable to participate literally. However, listening to the experiences of my peers and closest friends was so meaningful that I knew it was something I wanted to experience for myself.

I remember one friend sharing that every time they began to feel hungry throughout the day their thoughts were immediately forced onto God.

Fast forward nearly five years to today. Yesterday, I fasted. I didn't even have my morning coffee. Water was the gig...all day.

The first half of the day was easy. Skipping breakfast is normal for me, so no biggie there. (No lectures on the importance of the first meal of the day, please)

By lunch time, I was a grumpy lady.

By mid-afternoon I was ravenous enough that my boys instinctively evaded me by hanging out in their room.

It wasn't easy for me.

I made it through the day. I can support my friend's claim and then some. Every second of the day I was thinking about the task at hand. Every other second of the day I was trying to convince myself that one little grape wouldn't declare the fast null and void.

In my Christian walk I've always wanted more out of my personal devotion to Christ. I've wanted to truly empty myself of me and instead be filled with the word and Spirit of God. I long to hunger and thirst for Christ, like I hunger and thirst for my own selfish satisfaction.

Let me tell you what I learned from fasting. There is a battle going on inside me. One where I want to serve God and do His will, and also one where my will is served and my wants are satisfied. There is a tug of war for my heart and most of the time God is not the one that wins the battle.

I don't believe that I'm spiritually stunted because fasting is more trying for me than the average healthy human. I do believe that I AM the average human. I realize that I give in to myself too often and what may seem like a blessing of abundance morphs into a god itself whom I worship daily.

There are lots of gods out there...the god of playtime, the god of work, the god of food, the god of sex, the god of money and the all powerful god of me. How wonderful it would be if I for one day could empty myself of all the worship time I offer to the other gods and devote one day to THE God.

I'm still working on it. Praise the God of forgiveness and mercy that knows I'll never perfect it. I hope He knows how much I try.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Something to ponder.

I came across this quote last week by Miroslav Volf. Volf wrote a beautiful book called Exclusion and Embrace. His writing inspires me as it is truly art. I would like to know what you think about this short excerpt from his chapter on gender identity.

Volf said,

"In a world of enmity self-giving is the risky and hard work of love. There are no guarantees that self-giving will overcome enmity and that the evildoers will not try to invade the space that the self has made and crush those willing to give themselves for the good of others. We will have to resist such evildoers without betraying the commitment to self-giving. But though self-giving has no assurance of success, it does have the promise of eternity because it reflects the character of the divine Trinity. It is on account of self-giving that divine persons exist in a perfect community in which each is itself only by being inhabited by the others. And it is through the power of self-giving that a new community of men and women will emerge, in which distinct but dynamic gender identities that are "not without" the other will be fashioned and re-fashioned in peace."

Our example of self-giving on this day of celebration is the gift of Christ's death and glorious resurrection. Let us continue to follow His perfect and love-filled example and give of ourselves in every way we can...until He comes to take us home.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I Like Spring.

I love seasons. I find so much symbolism in nature and the natural cycle of creation. Today as I look out my window I see the sun. Today I can actually feel the warmth of the sun after the longest winter I've experienced in several years.

Over the last few months I've experienced an emotional and spiritual winter. I felt as if everything inside me went numb for a while, but today as I feel the warmth of the sun streaming through my window something is different.

Life is like that. We go through periods of winter where all inside us is dead, brown and cold. During those spiritual winters occasionally the snow comes and temporarily covers our wounds with Christ's perfection and reminds us that he heals and that his grace covers everything we bring to the earth. And then the sun rises.

We see and feel that warmth all around us. We, tempted to look down, recognize all too well the dead black remains of what was green and growing months before. As it gets brighter and warmer we feel embraced by something new. We were shivering alone before, but now we can brush off the coats that we made ourselves to try to make it through alone. We look down a second time and see the green emerge fertilized by the wounds of the past. Our garden grows again...refreshed renewed...

All because of the Son.