… give it up to gain

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I am a huge fan of She Reads Truth, an online community of women who study the Word and share their thoughts on the lessons. This time is geared towards Lent and yesterday’s scripture is still so deeply effecting me. Combined with Kari Jobe’s Here – I’m a mess.

I initially saw it on Insta and my mind immediately to how God loves us so deeply and hears us when we pray to so desperately to fill us and comfort us. I thought it sweet how that he would “satisfy our desires in the scorched places and makes our bones strong” and after all of the enduring, we would be revived and refreshed…. in Him. Sounded so sweet…. I began to think of the scorched places and the broken pieces of my heart and how I so seriously want God to satisfy my most basic desires and strengthen me. I thought of how God had already refreshed me so many times and how my faith and hope that came from all of that kept me moving.

lol….

That’s before I went to the scripture and read the chapters 57 and 58. Isaiah is talking about fasting. Not being comforted in day to day struggles, but how when we turn to God and seek him diligently in the way of fasting, how those things we have put away for a season and are sacrificing that we have come to depend on and “need”, the desires for the Coke, the online time, the TV, or shopping, how those desires will be met by a God who does see you, your motives, and heart. He contrasts the way the Israelites fasted to the way God really desires us to fast.  Isaiah pointed out how the Israelites gave up their Cokes, stepped away from their phones/TV/etc for a certain amount of time, and chose not to eat whatever but still treated those around them poorly. Certainly, while seeking God and making the most concerted effort to be near him won’t result to selfishness, fighting, and acting unlovingly toward those around you. This time before the Lord should change you.

I do believe that the last portion of my initial thoughts surrounding this scripture are near the mark, but didn’t quite make it. The goal and hope at the end of a fasting experience is that we feel refreshed, renewed, and more deeply connected to God. Hopefully, we have taught ourselves that what we thought was so necessary truly isn’t. Hopefully these days leading up to Easter will show us that when we depend so deeply on God that He will not only sustain, but satisfy us. That He will strengthen us and give us an energy and a vitality about us that we hadn’t experienced in a while.  Not only because we’re giving these things up but because we’re building a relationship with our Savior. Hopefully we are remembering that this freedom and closeness to God is available to us because of the greatest sacrifice of Jesus. We are diligently seeking Him out and he’s restoring us. He’s revealing things to us. He is showing us his character and graciously pruning us so that we can bear and share the fruits of His spirit. Hopefully the lack of ___ isn’t sending us over the edge but providing us with opportunities to rely on God. To pray and be still for moments spent in His presence.

A few days before Lent began, I read an article that broadened my thoughts about the sacrifices we make during Lent. I’m not Catholic but because I am a Christian, I obviously enjoy the thoughts behind this season, so I would participate. And, give up things that either didn’t mean much or I would literally get bored of it (truth) and halphazardly engage. So sad, yet so true. And, I know I’m not the only kid raising my hand in class when asked, “Has anyone ever …” lol. But, this year, I’m in a different place. A hopeful and very thirsty place. So, with the new revelation about the limitless possibilities of what is a very personal sacrifice and the state of beauty in limbo I find myself in, I’m pretty thrilled and am enjoying  this time.

And, I’ve had to adjust my sacrifice a bit since I’m on Spring Break (ha-lle-lu-jah) and sleeping in a bit but nonetheless I have noticed a severe shift in my being since committing. Even though I’ve goofed a few times just out of plain HABIT, I’m doing alright. This time has been incredible and refreshing.

I’ve learned so much about myself in the stillness. There’s a lot that I’ve realized I’ve been stifling in an effort to be a certain way… letting little bits of me come out without realizing that that fullness of who I am is good. It is okay. I don’t have to fit into a certain mold or keep who I am under lock and key for fear of rejection. A lesson I’ve had difficulty learning forever.  I feel like the Israelites in the wilderness going to God about the same things over and over when He has shown them the truth of who He is and what He can do. I’m still sitting foolishly unable to believe. That word…. believe. Keeps tapping me on my shoulder.
While God made me who I am and loves me just as I am – I’m learning how to be who I am in Him. Desiring to see the purpose in how I was created. Learning self control and wisdom in the when and how. Learning to bear and share in the grace of God. Learning to be meek and mild and bold and brave with tact and humility.

Because I’ve enjoyed this quiet so much, I’m considering tweaking my sacrifice a bit and hopefully this Lenten season sacrifice will become a forever type elimination. I just want more of Him.

… here’s to reading full chapters and getting context & enjoying the warmth of the Light!

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