Thursday, April 28, 2011

My Baptist Lent

This year I participated in lent for the first time, albeit a Baptist version (meaning no Ash Wednesday or palm leaves from the year before… or the other stuff I am not sure about). The challenge to myself was delivered to my church, “Give up or fast from something (that is a distraction to my relationship with Jesus) and replace it with a spiritual discipline.” Although I do not desire to delve into the specifics of what that looked like for me, I would like to pose a question: why would I take up something I laid down as a distraction?

If I resume my activities (yes there were more multiple things I laid down) that were a distraction, are they not just going to regain their former position in my life? Am I being too serious about my commitment? Is it really that big of a deal? For me personally, I am not really sure where the balance lies, but there is a conflict in picking up what I clearly saw as something that got in the way of my walk with God.

The principle of replacement was the key to actually growing spiritually during this time. In former fasts, I found myself thinking about how hungry I was, and “showing God I was serious about my specific prayer” – something that is valuable and important. This was different though, this was personal, it was about drawing closer to He who loves me, made me, died for me, and prays for me – the same God who rose from the grave and is my ferocious Fighter, victorious Savior, and adamant Advocate. It was about refocusing my heart and life towards God and the things of God. It brought about a renewed understanding of living on mission, having a meaningful time with God everyday (not struggling to stay out of a rut or get a quiet time done), and making the most of every opportunity.

God blessed me with the opportunity to lead two people into a relationship with Him and share His love with multiple others. I saw my patience lengthened… at least a time or two! Joy replaced tired living, He led me to thrive instead of just survive (this is a reference to my life-stage of having a 5 year old, 3 year old, and almost 4 month old). I believe that God has anointed me in specific ways, and I feel that was renewed during this time. Major problems in key relationships in my life were resolved. God was great to me during this time.

Also, there were hard times that challenged me greatly. There were times of frustration and confusion in regards to decision-making and struggles. My weaknesses and ability to sin is still present. Distractions abound. And it is very true that “He’s still working on me, to make me what I ought to be…”

All that being said, I have an intense desire to grow more intimately with God and to let His light and love shine through me. There are areas in my life I would like to develop spiritually, so again I am left with the thought, of why would I pickup that which I laid down that I saw as a distraction to my walk with God? For me personally, I do not think I will. Presumably I will get to the point where the said distractions are just hobbies or time fillers, and then I will most likely use them as entertainment. My prayer though is for God to grant me the wisdom to know the difference and the strength to lay whatever down for Him.

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