Thursday, February 23, 2012

Giving Up

Yesterday I started what for most people is Lent...for me, it's inspired by Lent, but since I am not Catholic, it is a personal journey to getting healthier, losing those 6 holiday induced pounds and getting mentally out of a little funk I've been holding on to for a few months.
For the next 39 1/2 days, I am giving up all beverages except coffee and water. Yes. It is going to get hard for me at times, I'm sure. Especially eating at restaurants. But, I know through prayer and the support of my family, I will persevere.
One of the pastors at my church sends out a weekly message via email entitled Worship Thoughts For Busy Parents. Her thoughts are always so inspirational and uplifting. I always gain a true blessing by her devotionals. Please read this weeks message:

For many Christian faith traditions, this week marks the beginning of Lent. Lent, in church history, is typically the 40 or so days before Easter. The idea is to sacrifice something in your own life so as to better identify with what Christ went through (specifically with his 40 days in the wilderness leading up to his ministry).

In Adventism we don't adhere to a liturgical calendar. Lent is not mentioned in the Bible and is not necessary for a faithful life with Christ. The spiritual discipline of fasting (giving up something for a period of time, whether food or some other life-regularity), however, has unfortunately been lost to many of us.

In the gospels, Christ refers to the life of following Him to be challenging. Specifically He says: "... If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it." (Luke 9:23, 24). When I look at my life as a Christian, I see lots of blessings (which are wonderful and I praise God for) but I don't see a lot of sacrifice. It is so easy for me to live comfortably as a Christian. Maybe too easy.

Fasting isn't about focusing on myself or about working to earn God's favor. For me, it is about recognizing that God has blessed and that so many things I consider "needs" are really "wants". My life is God's, and all I have belongs to God. What do I need to give up in order to truly appreciate? What have I been hoarding that needs to be turned over to God? I know from past experience that when I do finally give what I have kept as "mine" to God, God does more amazing things with it than I could ever have even dreamed of on my own.

Have you ever fasted? Beyond giving up food, is there an area of your life that is in excess that God is asking you to give up control? There is another way to look at fasting as well. Giving negative mental habits is a form of fasting. Pessimism, negativity, self-loathing, judgmentalism (just a few things I am too often guilty of) can be given to God as a form of fasting as well. For the next few weeks, maybe you need to give up feeling unloved by God? Give up being hard on yourself? Accept that you are the beloved child of God? I don't know what it is for you, but as we are coming up to Easter, think about what you can do to give your life more fully to the God who came to earth and gave His own life for you.

Grace & Peace,
Pastor Jana Lee

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