Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Swimming in His Treasures

This particular coffee is very good,
is fair trade, and helps support my
friend's adoption. Buy some here!
I finished my food fast almost a month ago - and it taught me a lot! But before I get into what I learned, I should first confess a few things. A couple of days after writing my first post about my fast, I started drinking coffee again. Yep, I only did my full fast for about 2 weeks. But, in my defense, I suddenly became a temporary single parent (who homeschools and was working a part time job). Our lives took a quick shift due to an immediate need for new employment for my husband, so I decided to not kill myself with my food restrictions. I shifted my fast to giving up sweets (well, really about anything w/ sugar or any other sweetener in it), dairy, and gluten. I know how easy it is for me to use carbs to comfort myself, and I did not want that to happen during this trying time of job change and schedule change and support change. But I also did not want to drive myself crazy fixing 2 different meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And I quickly realized that the amount of sleep I was getting was going to diminish and that taking naps were going to be out of the question, so I compromised. I also allowed myself to drink coffee (yes, with cream and sugar - those were my sugar and dairy exceptions).

Check out this organization to
see how you can make your
Christmas more meaningful
So, back to what I learned. I learned that even though I shifted my fast to make life more manageable, God was still teaching me. It didn't matter what I gave up, just that I gave up something so that I could decrease and He could increase. It mattered that I did not go to food or anything else for comfort, but that I went to my heavenly father for comfort and guidance. God is about the relationship, not the rules. I also learned that my culture drives me much more than I would like it to. When I had to refuse food in front of others, I would gloss over the reason why with "I'm on a diet." And then I quickly found myself battling that mentality. See, after about a week of no sugar or other junk, I started dropping pounds. And honestly, that made my fast a little easier. When I would be hungry and without a food item I could eat, I soon started willing myself to not give in because it was nice to fit into some old jeans again. (Yep, I was fully missing the point during those moments.) See the whole point is that we need Christ. We need Him to fill us, to feed us, to nourish us, or we are filled with junk. But so many times, we fill ourselves with meaningless things. We use jobs, status, our homes, our clothes, our cars, our comforts, and even good things like our friends and family to give us a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. But those are all things that do not fully quench. We need the living water to satisfy our hearts and give our lives meaning.

But it is so hard to even see that because our culture - especially our American Christian culture that exists in our churches and communities - tells us a different story. We are told that we need safety and security. We need to do something good and prestigious. We need the house and the cars (yes plural) and the new Easter outfits. We need to look out for #1 and make sure we have a nice retirement plan, 4 months worth of income in savings, and a college fund for each child. Our kids need to do music lessons and sports and dancing and scouts. We can't miss out on all this life has to offer. And our kids especially cannot miss out. After all, what kind of parents would we be if we didn't give them the world? But the problem with this way of thinking and living is it is not biblical. Luke 12:22-34 says:

22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life[b]? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Did you notice that Christ told us that God will feed us and cloth us better than He does the birds and the flowers and that we will be given His kingdom?! So, we will be well fed, well clothed, well taken care of, and then we will inherit God's kingdom! And why? Just because it pleases our heavenly Dad! And then, did you notice what the kingdom looks like? When we are in God's kingdom - the one where we are infinitely provided for; the one that is owned by our Father who owns this whole world and everything in it - we have the privilege of selling our possessions and giving to the poor! We are given the privilege of sifting through our junk and keeping the treasure! I can picture walking into God's kingdom (the one that I, his adopted daughter did nothing to deserve or build or contribute to. It's just there in all its grandeur and God just invited me in) clinching my sack of stuff that I felt that I had to bring with me because it felt safe and familiar, and my new, perfect Dad saying "Go through it all. It's yours. Take what you'd like." I walk through the rooms and go through the closets and get to keep everything and anything that's of value. And then I look at my bag of stuff and see that I've been holding tight to junk, so I get to toss it. And what am I left with? The most glamorous, eternal gifts! I am left with children who I was able to give my heart to and friends I was able to love and support and mouths I was able to feed and hope I was able to be a part of passing on and lives I was able to save and hearts I was able to speak into and truths I was able to speak over the destitute. When God is blessing us, He is helping us to see our junk for what it is, and is showing us that there is this eternal treasure that we get to swim in! And the saddest thing to me is that so many of us miss this! We are told that God will provide for us plus give us infinitely more than we could ever hope or imagine and we, in our pride and ignorance, say, "Oh, but I've got my treasure here. I'm good. Thanks though, God." And it is a pile of junk. It is an old decrepit house and a rusty car and some career that we think is our purpose in life. And they all looked so new and sparkly and treasure-like when we got them, but it was fools gold because over time, they just needed to be replaced with more junk and more junk until we've accumulated a life lived in a junk yard. And why do we hang on to this pile of junk and miss out on living a rich, luxurious life? Fear. Katie Davis tells the perfect story to illustrate the American Dream (or the American Fear):

  Once there was a people who surveyed the resources of the world and said to each other: "How can we be sure that we will have enough in hard times? We want to survive whatever happens. Let us start collecting food, materials, and knowledge so that we are safe and secure when a crisis occurs." So they started hoarding, so much and so eagerly that the other peoples protested and said, "You have so much more than you need, while we don't have enough to survive. Give us part of your wealth!" But the fearful hoarders said, "No, no, we need to keep this in case of an emergency, in case things go bad for us too, in case our lives are threatened." But the others said, "We are dying now, please give us food and materials and knowledge to survive. We can't wait . . . we need it now!" Then the fearful hoarders became even more fearful, since they became afraid that the poor and hungry would attack them. So they said to one another, "Let us build walls around our wealth so that no stranger can take it from us." They started erecting walls so high that they could not even see anymore whether their enemies were outside the walls or not! As their fear increased they told each other, "Our enemies have become so numerous that they may be able to tear down our walls. Our walls are not strong enough to keep them away. We need to put bombs at the top of the walls so that nobody will dare to even come close to us." But instead of feeling safe and secure behind their armed walls they found themselves trapped in the prison of their own bombs, wondering if they might harm themselves more than their enemy. And gradually they realized their fear of death had brought them closer to it.

She got it. At 18 or 19, Katie Davis got that the junk that we think we need is just a distraction from being able to live a full meaningful life. We believe the lie that we can plan well enough and work hard enough to prevent going through hard times. But while we accumulate this false security, we not only build a wall that enslaves us, we take away from the rest of the world. So, we have to ask ourselves, "Do I want to provide purses for myself that will not wear out and treasures in heaven that will never fail or do I want to spend this one life accumulating junk, enslaving myself into this prison of false security, and ultimately bringing myself closer to eternal death?" The truth is that you can leave your junk yard! You can acquire an exciting, meaningful life filled w/ the richness of Christ!

If this stirs you and if you want to walk out these changes with a community of like-minded people, there are 50 something people starting the 12 x 12 project in less than a week. (This is so exciting!) The 12 x 12 project is a one year endeavor to bring twelve different social justice issues to light through monthly meetings, fundraising campaigns, and by wearing the same outfit from that organization all month long. Come on board now, or whenever you are ready. You can do parts of the project or jump in head first. Remember, it only matters that we decrease so that God might increase. Let God meet you where you are. Check out our facebook page or read my friend Ida's blog to learn more. God is moving! I hope that you choose to enjoy the blessings of being a part of God's mission!

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