Living Water

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Not too long ago, we lost our water for an afternoon. We were getting ready to have a crowd over for supper, and we had been preparing things all afternoon. We had used a bunch of bowls and knives etc to prepare, and the time had come to get those dishes out of the way to make the kitchen look presentable and get the finishing touches done on dinner. But the water was gone. We couldn’t run the dishwasher. We couldn’t wash anything by hand. There were a few vegetables we needed to clean, but couldn’t. It was a big pain.

On another occasion, I was about to get in the shower and noticed the water wouldn’t come on. I was also trying to do a load of laundry. I found out that the city had turned off our water supply because they were working on some pipes. I was frustrated because I couldn’t get ready for the day, and was behind on my house work.

It’s amazing how much we miss water when it is gone, but how much we take it for granted when it is running. I give my kids a drink of whenever they need one. Bathe them. Wash their hands many times throughout the day. Fill up the kettle numerous times a day. Put in laundry. Run the dishwasher. Get a drink for myself. Take a shower. I do all of these things without even the slightest thought to how precious water is. Until it is gone. Then I feel irritated.

And then I think of the 750 million people around the world without clean water and I am ashamed at my first world problems…

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When there is no clean water, mothers are forced to give their children dirty water to drink, in hopes that it will help and not hurt.

Diarrhea is the second leading cause of death among children under five in the world. Around 1.5 million deaths a year, nearly one in five, are caused by diarrhea, which kills more children than malaria, AIDS, and measles combined.

3.4 million people die every year of water related illness (that’s like the entire population of Los Angeles, CA).

65% of people living in rural india do not have access to a toilet, and as a result they have no choice but to defecate out in the open which only worsens the water problem.

Globally, women spend 200 million hours a day collecting water.This is equivalent to building 28 Empire State Buildings each day. Often the water they get is contaminated with waterbourne illnesses, and can even cause death to their families, but they have no other option.

We hear these things all the time. General numbers. Statistics. It’s hard for us to realize that these numbers and facts represent real people just like you and me who really are suffering right now. Real mothers whose children are looking to them for something to drink, and they have nothing to offer them. Real mothers who hold their crying sick children and have no way to help them. These people have no choice but to suffer, or watch their children suffer, often die, simply because they do not have a simple thing that we take for granted every single day.

If you are like me, these facts can be paralyzing. The need in the world is so overwhelming and it is easier to turn a blind eye…because really, what can we do for all of these people?

We can do more than we think.

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March 22 is World Water Day. A day to raise awareness about this global issue. Organizations like Gospel for Asia, have solutions to this problem, but they need our help. GFA digs wells, installs water filters, and builds outdoor toilets in order to combat the water problem. We are some of the most materially blessed people in the world. We may not be able to go physically dig the wells,  or install filters, but we can GIVE so that others can. Every little bit helps.

Gospel for Asia helps all people – no matter who they are or what they believe. However, some people are choosing to follow after Jesus as a result of the kindness they receive through these programs. So, not only are you offering them physical water, you are offering them the one who gives Living Water. Jesus says to the woman at the well: Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,  but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13,14). And that is the greatest gift of all! 

We may not know on this side of Heaven the impact we can have on others, but THIS is what I believe the Bible is saying when it talks about storing up treasures in Heaven. Investing in human beings for the sake of Jesus is something that will last into eternity.

Click here to find out more about how you can help.

Click here to read a story about how digging a Jesus Well affected this family, and their village.

Sources/information:
http://water.org/water-crisis/water-facts/water/
http://unicef.in/Whatwedo/11/Eliminate-Open-Defecation

Live Like You Are Loved. Because You Are.

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Sometimes it feels like in order for something to matter, it has to be recognized by other people. The more people recognize it, the more important it is. If no one knows, then it seems like maybe it doesn’t matter.

Perhaps this is because when people recognize it they acknowledge our talents and abilities, and praise us for it, and this makes us feel like we matter. And so if no one sees it or recognizes it, we can feel insignificant or unappreciated.

This is particularly true in Christian ministry. It is tempting, when thinking of ways to serve others, to think that our ministry only matters if a lot of people know about it. For this reason, we can find ourselves thinking that because our ministry is small, or secret, or isn’t one of the “official” ones being announced every Sunday morning, then it doesn’t matter. We can compare ourselves to the people who stand out with the more public or flashy ministries, and feel insignificant. The whole Christian celebrity phenomenon doesn’t help this.

There are so many things I’d like to do. So many ways I’d like to help. And often it feels like in order for any of it to make a difference, it has to be an official ministry that is recognized by lots of people. But I think God is asking me, “Amanda, can you just be faithful with the small things? Can you be satisfied knowing that I see you, even if no one else does?

To have the praise and approval of people is meaningless – and honestly, are any of us humble enough to handle it? But to have the praise and approval of God far outweighs any compliment or pat on the back we can get from people. And here is the thing: He already approves. And nothing we do can change that.

But where are we looking for significance? It’s the age old question, isn’t it? It’s that thing in us that seeks to be significant because of something in us. Just like Eve sought significance apart from God. Just like the people built cities to “make a name for themselves“. There is a thing in us that wants to matter, but we want the credit for it. We want the glory.

How freeing it would be if we stopped striving after things that we already have in Christ. Significance. Worth. Approval. If we would just quit trying to take the credit, and be content to let him have all of it. We would love others so much better – It wouldn’t matter how many read the blog, or come to the study, or compliment the food – we would just be content to serve knowing that we are showing others a tiny glimpse of His great love.

Let’s stop striving, and just live like we are loved. Because we are.

“The Lord your God is with you,
    the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
    but will rejoice over you with singing.”

- Zephaniah 3:17

A New Year, A New Perspective

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Happy New Year! It’s 2015! Can you believe it? Where did the year go?

I love the beginning of a New Year. There is something refreshing about taking down the Christmas decorations, cleaning the house, and settling back into a normal routine. I feel a kind of anticipation for the year ahead, and often spend time thinking about things I want to work on in my life. It seems like a good time to consider the year past, learn from it, and start new.

That is where resolutions come in. They can be fun, but honestly, this year I decided not to make any. It’s just silliness, at least when you are me. My resolutions, I have come to realize, are pretty self focused. They are all about ME. How I can improve. How I can change. And why? So I can feel like I am more awesome than I really am. I think at the root, at least for me, there is a lot of pride. I just want to approve of myself more. I place my worth in my ability to do a certain thing (or not do a certain thing), but then when I fail I feel terrible about myself, which reinforces the idea that I can’t really change.

So this year, I am just going to admit it. I can’t change. I have no willpower. I just eat all the cakes and all the chocolate and all the carbs. I just do. I can’t say no. It’s not possible. If there is a chocolate in front of my face, I will eat it. Oh, and I can’t discipline myself in any other area either, by the way. I worry worry worry all the time, and I just can’t focus on prayer. I procrastinate with housework. Every day I say I will do better tomorrow, but I don’t. I am not one of those people who has the willpower to change my habits. I just can’t do it. I can’t change, and so I am not going to make any resolutions because I will fail.

That is how I feel.

And honestly, there is truth to it. Every time I depend on myself in order to change, I fail. And I have believed for a long time that I literally can’t change as a result of this. But I am forgetting something.

The whole point is that I can’t change. I am powerless, but God is able. That is the Gospel. I was powerless in my sin to change, but Jesus came to save me from that powerlessness. He lived that life that I can’t live, and died the death I should have died. THEN he overcame sin and death, and by his power in me, I will too.

What would happen if we applied the Gospel to our “resolutions”?

First of all, I think we would throw half of them out the window.

But as for the ones that in and of themselves are actually good and honouring to God, I think we would see a lot more progress. I think we would end up a lot closer to Jesus. And I think we would see him work in us.

The sins that I need to overcome? There’s a long list, but a few in particular that I have been wanting to change? Gluttony. Worry. Apathy (to God’s Word). Just to name a few.

So my resolution is really to live like I believe God exists. That Jesus really did die for my sin. That Jesus really does live in me. I am just going to stop believing the lie that I can’t change, because Jesus lives in me and will empower me to do the things he has commanded me to do. He will not command me to do anything that he will not help me to accomplish.

I can decide not to overeat (I have been doing it since the 7th!)

I can decide to turn my worries into prayers.

I can decide to read the Word of God every day, and pray hard that he will give me a love for his Word (even the Old Testament ..God help me).

Ultimately, in 2015, I just want to fix my eyes on Jesus, not on myself. I want to stop believing lies. I want to be the person God has created me to be because that is what will give him the most glory, and bring me the most fulfilment. Fixing my eyes on myself will only lead to pride or discouragement, but when I fix my eyes on Jesus I can get over myself and get on with the work he has for me to do.

And here is the thing. I am going to fail. But WHEN I do, I can stop wallowing and just lay that failure down at the feet of Jesus, and start again. Because that is the Good News. He died for our failures. I don’t need to carry the guilt. And I won’t.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” – Hebrews 12:1-3

A Treasure in Heaven.

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“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on Earth, where moth and rust destroy, and thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6: 19-21

I have never had a difficult time understanding what this passage means by “treasures on earth”; I can easily understand what an earthy treasure might be – really any material possession at all. There are countless possibilities. But if I am honest, my mind would often go blank when I tried to picture a “heavenly” treasure. I mean, I understood the concept, but I don’t think I really “got it”. I didn’t dig in to the Word, though – I would just nod my head and go along with it.

I think this is an issue we all have at least at some point in our lives. Unconsciously, we know we are meant to value God’s Kingdom more than anything else, but deep down we don’t know for sure what that looks like. We kind of just take for granted that we value God’s Kingdom more than anything else, but really….do our lives show that we do?

About a year and a half ago, God started working on me in this area. He started to show me what he means when he talks about treasures in heaven, and I started to understand that my life reflected that I didn’t really value his Kingdom above all. Slowly (very slowly), I am beginning to loosen my grip on the things of this world, but it is very very hard. One of the ways that God has made it a bit “easier” is by breaking my heart for the things that break his.

Our God loves the human beings he has made, and he mourns over the injustice he sees all over the world. He mourns over the thousands who are suffering without food or water, the children orphaned by aids, the countless children sold into sex trafficking every day, the women who are unjustly accused and punished – even killed – simply for being women.

Our God cares about these issues, and he mourns when his sons and daughters don’t care – when we act like it’s not happening. When we are so busy chasing after treasures on earth, that we don’t see the countless treasures we could be storing up in heaven: souls saved for his glory. Isn’t that what the Kingdom of God is made up of? Human souls? Human beings who come to know His love because regular joe’s went out and obeyed God’s command to care for the least of these, and make disciples for His glory. These are treasures that we will take to Heaven with us  – literally. We can invest in material possessions, which will rot when we are gone, or we can invest in souls that will last forever. 

One way to invest in God’s Kingdom is through Gospel for Asia’s “Bridge of Hope” program. Gospel for Asia is an organization that my husband and I recently started supporting, and we are very impressed with it. Through GFA you can sponsor children, or local missionaries. We love GFA firstly because it stands with integrity upon the Word of God – the Gospel is at it’s core. Secondly, financially speaking it is trustworthy and 100% of it’s funds go to the mission field.

Through Gospel for Asia’s Bridge of Hope program, you can provide a child with an education, regular doctor check ups, a daily meal, and clean clothes – all while giving them the opportunity to learn about God’s love for them. Not only will you be telling them of God’s love, but in a tangible way you will be showing them God’s love too. You will receive a picture of your child and regular updates, and have opportunities to write to your child.

Gospel for Asia has a goal to see 2000 children sponsored by Mother’s Day. Will you consider reaching out to one of these little ones in the name of Jesus? Even if you can’t do it by Mother’s Day, perhaps this is something you and your family can consider doing. Click here to find out more.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” – Matthew 25: 34-40

 

The Root of the Problem….

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Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. – Genesis 3: 1-8

Recently I started reading through the BIble. I decided that I am going to read it from beginning to end – even if it takes years. Genesis has always been a source of conflict for me. Don’t even get me started on the problem of evil and human freedom!

This time around, I have decided not to focus on all of the questions I have, and instead focus on what I can know and understand from reading Genesis. When I was reading this passage, I was struck by how relevant the story is to me in this season in life.

So, here we have Eve. She is hanging out in a beautiful garden with her hubby – full access to God and every good thing. God had given Adam and Eve authority over everything, and there was nothing they could ever want or need. God had given them only one “restriction”, communicated to Adam earlier:

“You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” – Genesis 2: 16, 17

They had everything – literally. God had made the stars, the moon, the sun, the earth, the animals, the beautiful plants and trees, the rivers – everything. The king of the universe had made all of this, and then he turned to Adam and Eve and said: “It’s yours”. The command not to eat from that one tree can barely be seen as a restriction; It was a loving command given to them from a loving father, for their good, as is always the case with God’s commands. Why couldn’t they eat from the tree? Because they would die. That is a pretty loving command.

But Satan plants doubt in Eve’s mind. First, he causes her to doubt what God had said in the first place (vs. 1). God had not said that they must not eat of any tree in the garden, he had only said that they could not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Satan made God’s command seem more strict than it actually was. Then, he made God out to be a liar (vs. 4), telling Eve that she wouldn’t die. Lastly, he plants doubt in Eve’s mind about God’s motives, saying that God just didn’t want Adam and Eve to be like him (vs. 5). Satan wanted Eve to believe that God was hiding something from her, and that he was not really good.

And Eve falls for it. Having the seeds of doubt planted, she now looks at the tree with lustful eyes. She focuses in on the one thing she can’t have instead of all that she has been given. She sees that it is edible, that it looks good, and she thinks: If I eat this, I will be wise – like God! Instead of trusting in what God had said, she trusts in her own reasoning. And she eats it. And so does her husband.

It’s not about the fruit. It’s about what the fruit represented, and what their eating it said about them. They wanted to be wise – like God. Why? Wasn’t it enough that they got to walk with him intimately? God of the universe was right there any time they needed him and they could ask him anything. He had provided them with everything they needed and more. Why would they need that kind of wisdom if they trusted him? It wasn’t enough. Their identity was tied to God, and they wanted more than that. That fruit represented autonomy from God. They wanted to be “somebody” in and of themselves – not because of their connection with God.

This is human sin. At the root of every sinful act, is this very problem: we want autonomy from God. We want to be “somebody” apart from God. We want to approve of ourselves because of something in us.

I see this in my own life more and more every day. This is something God is uncovering in me  – and it’s painful, and overwhelming. The more he uncovers, the more I see how badly I need him every moment of the day. But at the same time, I see how much I don’t want to depend on him every moment of the day. In other words, I see my total inability to change myself – and how badly I need God to change me. This is, of course, a blessing, because it is only here that I can begin to heal. But it’s hard.

We can go through huge chunks of our lives living this way without realizing it. We can find our identity in: our children, our careers, our ministries, our relationships, our possessions, our reputation, the number of notifications on Facebook, etc. All of these things are fine, but they can easily become idols. The problem is, our hearts are prone to deception and we are usually blind to our idols. Sometimes though, we can identify them when they are threatened.

Maybe your child misbehaves in a way you never expected at school; now all of a sudden you feel like a failure and find yourself being paranoid about what people are thinking, or resentful toward other people whose children are behaving better. Or maybe you find out that someone doesn’t think your heart is in the right place with regard to a ministry you are involved in. Now you find you are filled with self justifying thoughts, and anxiety. It can take on many forms, but all these things show that something else has taken the place of God. These things have become a crutch – a way for us to feel good about ourselves, and to approve of ourselves. And then when something goes wrong, we feel worthless, angry, bitter etc. This is because we have not died to self; we are still concerned with our image more than we are concerned with Gods. We want to be able to approve of ourselves because of something about us. This is what Adam and Eve wanted in the Garden, and what every other human being has wanted ever since.

But it is often harder to see when things are going well. When the ministry is flourishing and people are looking up to you as a godly and generous person, or your children are well behaved, or your boss praises you at work, it’s easy to put your head on the pillow in peace at night. It’s easy to approve of yourself when everyone else approves of you and things seem to be going well. But this is dangerous because even  all of our good works are like filthy rags to God (Isaiah 64:6). None of the good things that we do – no matter how good – put us in better standing with God. God’s approval of us has nothing to do with anything that we have done. We bring absolutely nothing to the table. This is a freeing truth, but if we are honest, many of us don’t get peace from it in our day to day lives. For me, this is because usually it’s not God’s approval I want. Ultimately, it’s my own.

 

Search me, God, and know my heart;
Test me and know my anxious thoughts. 
See if there is any offensive way in me, 
And lead me in the way everlasting.”

- Psalm 139: 23,24
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Prone to wander, Lord I feel it…”

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It’s lent and as I said last time, I decided I wanted to make it meaningful. I usually give something up just for the sake of giving it up, but this time I wanted to do something that would actually bring me closer to God.  So here are my thoughts after my first week…

I have been a little bit of a monster the past month or more. I feel overwhelmed and tired and I am not quite sure what changed. But I did notice that my mind is a bit “full”. It seems I always have something on my mind, and I am therefore always distracted and irritable. I wasn’t really aware of what my mind was full of, just that it was full. So I started thinking of ways that I can centre my thoughts more on God and I decided to take Ann Voskamp‘s Joy Dare. Basically, you start a gratitude journal in which you keep track of things you are thankful for. You learn to look for little gifts from God throughout your day, from the big things like a promotion at work, to the small things, like the way the light reflects on the bubbles as you wash the dishes. You can do this on your own, or you can use the list that Voskamp provides on her website as a way to prompt you. I printed the list just in case I was having trouble.

So, how did it go?

Not great. Surprise, surprise.

When you become intentional about how you think, you become aware of where your mind is prone to go. This week it was confirmed to me that my mind is chaotic – always tossing around thoughts that are not in check with God. I noticed that not only is my mind prone to wander, but when I try to be intentional, I find that I really don’t want to focus on God. I don’t want to discipline my mind to think differently. So I let myself think the way that comes naturally – and I don’t take the thoughts captive to make them obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). I don’t challenge my thoughts with truth. As a result I am filled with pride and/or anxiety and there really is no room for godly thoughts at all.

There are a lot of seemingly good things that I do regularly, that I realized this week are just a way for me to distract myself from the real issue. For example, I listen to sermons while I cook, or read blogs during the day. I feel good about doing that because, hey! I am filing myself up with good stuff – godly stuff. In the moment, I feel better because the blog or sermon might be encouraging and I feel like I am being fed. But what I have found out is that it really only serves to distract me, and doesn’t get to the root of the issue: I need a heart change. Sure, I might feel better as I listen to the sermon or read the blog, but transformation is only going to happen when I do the hard work of “sowing” the seed.

The other thing that I do when faced with my bad heart is come up with a 5 step plan for how I am going to “beat this” bad habit. I know that I am not in the right place, so I go to my favourite blogs and follow their Bible reading plans, or I read a bunch of books that are inspiring or give advice on how to overcome certain things.  I sit down and write out my plans for how I am going to overcome this. Now, are these things always bad? No. But again, I think I do it as a distraction. It’s easier to sit down and figure out a “plan” than it is to simply live it out. In our world of information, we have access to so many resources which is wonderful, but it is easy to become dependant on them and not even realize it. We forget that just because something is good, doesn’t mean it can’t become unhealthy. 

So, I am talking to my husband about this the other night. I am talking about my thoughts and how they are prideful, and chaotic. In the middle of my talking he simply asks me this:

Do you repent of this? When you have these thoughts, do you repent?

What a question. Repent: what a word. I don’t think we talk about repentance very much these days apart from initial conversion. The answer is very simple: no. When my thoughts go in this direction, I either passively go along with them, or do one of the two things I mentioned above. I either don’t care, or if I do I try to find a magic formula.

My husband says to me:

You don’t need a six step plan – just repent, ask God to help you, and resolve that you will not continue in that pattern. If you have to do that every hour, do it. We often think it is complicated, but really it is that simple. And it works – it really does.

Repent. Believe. That was Jesus’ message. Why am I so resistant? I see now that the reason I want a plan is because I want to feel like it is within my control to change – which is, again, prideful. Just another way of running from God. My default is always pride – and sometimes it is disguised as humility. Coming up with a plan seems humble at first glance because it admits I need to change, but in reality I want to be in control, rather than depend on God. To come to a place where I see that I need help is good, but this should humble me to the point where I cry out to God for help. If my reaction is to come up with a plan or listen to a million sermons on the issue, I have not understood the Gospel.

Conclusion:

I am a prideful/anxious human. I really just am. The resistance I feel within me to the things of God is often very strong. Even when I think about godly things, I tend to think about them in the wrong way; either in an abstract way (not really applying it), or in a prideful way (applying it to someone else). All the great resources out there have become a crutch for me; I tend to use them as a distraction, or as a way for me to affirm my own beliefs about God, leading to arrogance.

So…what to do? Well, I am no longer following any Bible reading plans. Instead, I have just decided to start in Genesis and read through the Bible, using a notebook and a pen to jot down observations/applications/questions. Other than that, I have seriously cut down on the amount of sermons I listen to; now while cooking I usually listen to music, or an audio Bible or pray. I am planning to continue with Joy Dare – I’ll do the simple but difficult task of counting gifts, and repenting and asking for God’s help when I find my mind wandering.

Hearing from God in his Word, and learning to keep an ongoing dialogue with God are two goals that I think are OK to have. They are simple, and I think they are all God really wants from me. He just wants relationship. I don’t know what will happen, or how God will use it. I just want to be open to what he has to teach me. I want more of him – less of me.

I have started this challenge, and I have failed tremendously already. But I want to keep going. If you think of it, pray for me?

“Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above.”


My Challenge Failed. On to Lent.

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So, my first challenge failed before it began. Isn’t it ironic that I started a blog series about spiritual disciplines, and then did not even have the discipline to write ONE post? OK, so scrap that idea. But, hey – it is a great thought! So if you do it, let me know how it goes!

This is me, people. I like to start things. I get excited at the idea of doing something – but if I am not careful, I end up not finishing what I started. Now you know me a bit better. I don’t think I even consulted my Father before I started the last series – so no wonder I failed. Just because something is a good idea, doesn’t mean you should do it. Lesson learned (for the billionth time).

Today is the first day of Lent. So, I am continuing on with the theme “less of me, more of him”. But I am not going to start a series or make any commitments – not with respect to blogging.

I used to choose to give something up for lent. Usually it would be something like chocolate, and I always failed – the the same way the last blog series failed (I am noticing a trend here). Growing up I had no idea what Lent was about – I just knew it had something to do with Easter. On Ash Wednesday, we would go around all day long with ashes on our foreheads and I had no idea why. I understood that we were supposed to deny ourselves of something for 40 days, but I didn’t know the reason. So, I would try to deny myself of something, but because I had no idea why I was doing it, I had little motivation to stick with it. It just wasn’t worth it. Why would any sane woman want to give up chocolate for 40 whole days?! That’s crazy talk.

If you are giving something up just for the sake of giving it up, you will likely fail. At least you will if you are like me. There needs to be some deeper motivation. I now know that when you give something up for Lent, if anything, it should be for the purpose of gaining something greater – not putting yourself through some kind of torture (Jesus already suffered so we wouldn’t have to). Lent is not something you do because doing it makes you a better person. God is not impressed when we deny ourselves of certain pleasures. We don’t gain brownie points with him when we do that. Thankfully, Jesus already got all the “points”. No, if we spend the time leading up to Easter denying ourselves of anything, it is simply so that we can draw near to our Father. He fulfills our souls, and when we remove things from our lives that distract us from him, and spend more time with him, we will find nourishment for our souls. It pleases our Dad when we desire just to be with him.

So my goal for Lent is simply to allow myself to step out of my comfort zone, because that is where God is. Yes, there might be a bit of discomfort (imagine that), but I want to become more aware of my need for him. It’s easy to forget about my need for him when I continually distract myself. So, I will deny myself of small things here and there throughout the season; things like social media, sweets, caffeine – all the normal things I tend to distract/comfort myself with, so that I can feel a bit restless for a moment. But in that restlessness, I will turn to God – the only one who can actually satisfy me.

More than I want comfort in the things of this world, I want to know the Comforter.

I don’t want Easter, probably the most (or second most) important “holiday” of the Christian calendar, to go by without much thought. I want to honour God, and actually spend some intentional time reflecting upon what he did for us.

I found this link online – it’s a great guide to follow if you are looking for something to do for Lent. I will refer to it throughout the season and I may or may not let you know how it goes (learning from the past here, people).

Let’s draw near to our King this season, friends! And every season, for that matter :)