Disclaimer: This blog may be a sort of eruption of everything in my head. Hopefully, it’ll all make sense in the end.
Lent begins on Wednesday. I’ve never participated in Lent before because no church I’ve ever been a part of has encouraged it. I’m not even sure I knew what Lent was until maybe middle school. That changes this week, with Ash Wednesday fast approaching.
At church, we’ve been working through the book of Galatians. We’ve been talking about grace and peace–how we can do nothing to earn grace, and how striving for grace cheapens it. How peace comes when we accept grace with no strings attached. It’s obviously been on my mind a lot–I’ve been constantly reminded of grace in unexpected ways. I’ve found peace even when I’m exhausted and stressed out. (This is such a watered-down summary of all I’ve been thinking about that it doesn’t even seem to be scratching the surface.)
In conjunction with that, I’ve been a part of a community at North Greenville with people who are quickly becoming my family, people I genuinely love and care for. It’s been incredible. And we’ve all been working through the book of John, where over and over again, I am reminded of how vast Jesus is. The past few days, I’ve been reading through chapters 11 through 15, and over and over again, I’ve seen the theme of how everything–Lazarus’ death, Judas’ impending betrayal, the story of the vine and the branches–everything points back to God’s glory. Everything happens because God will be glorified.
All of these ideas combining in my head have made for an interesting few weeks. And I feel like it’s about to get even more interesting…and difficult. See, at church Sunday night, Stuart (our pastor) encouraged us all to participate in Lent, communally, if possible. He encouraged us all to die to ourselves in every way that we can, to get rid of any sin that’s separating us from God–from his peace, from his glory. To leap off the cliff and follow Jesus in every way that we can.
Yikes. Scary. Difficult. Invigorating. Enthralling.
So after meeting with my community tonight and spending some time wrestling over how we can die to ourselves, I’ve made a few decisions. First, the easy thing. I can’t exactly fast in the traditional sense of the word (because of the diabetes and all). But I can certainly give up something that has become my crutch: caffeine. Starting Wednesday, no more Coke Zero, no more real coffee, no more tea from the NGU caf. Be prepared. 🙂
But more importantly, can I die to myself emotionally? Can I fully turn over my heart and my mind to Christ? Can I learn to overcome my impatience? Can I hand over the desires of my heart and fully trust that God has a greater plan in mind? It will require constant vigilance, an unceasing awareness of moments when I attempt to wrestle control away from God. Intentionally letting God pervade my thoughts instead of all the crap I tend to get focused on. Choosing to rely on Him instead of my own imperfect plans. And doing it all unselfishly because I want to glorify my Father and not have pride in myself.
I can already feel that the last part may be the most challenging. (To be honest, even writing this seems a bit prideful–as though I want you all to know how self-sacrificing I can be. But that’s not my intention at all.) But if I love Jesus, then I’ll want to follow his Word, right? And if He promises that whoever loses his life will gain it, what do I have to lose?
Here’s the cliff. I think I’m about to start free falling.
Grace and peace.