Sunday, April 8, 2012

My First Time Observing Lent

Jubilee Church
Seoul, Korea

This place, it's got something.  The Spirit is there, man.  And, He, like, does things.

During the change of the calender year, the whole congregation of 500 strong had this misty energy.  Everyone was talking about change, new beginnings, and the Lord's faithfulness.  Some New Year's resolutions were made, but they were made with eyes set on the One who makes the difference.  I've never seen this kind of attitude surrounding this time of year, but I knew that I liked what I saw.  I saw one people, determined to live out the calling set before them and thankful for the reminder of God's coming promises.

A little before Ash Wednesday came around, Pastor Dave mentioned fasting for Lent in one of his sermons.  Even before PD had mentioned it, I'd heard snatches of conversations on the topic.  Once the sermon was delivered, everywhere I turned people were talking about it.  In the next few Sundays, no one I talked to didn't have something they were sacrificing for the 46 days until Resurrection Day.

Of all the bandwagons to jump on for the sake of jumping, well, this one might not be the best one to choose because God judges the heart, not your actions.  But... I kind of jumped on the bandwagon.

Honestly, nothing about observing Lent sounded like a bad idea, so I thought, "You know, there's something I've already been thinking I want less of in my life."  With that lead, but without praying about it or seeking any outside guidance, I decided to fast from Pinterest, Tumblr, and Twitter.  The Saturday before all this, in a sort of out of body experience, I saw myself consuming these blurbs and pictures of life like they were the air I breathed.  I was sitting at my computer for hours just scrolling through pictures of what I could be doing.  I was sincerely disgusted with myself when I realized that I live in freakin' Seoul and life is right outside my door for the taking.  So, just like that, I decided that I wanted to live the life God set for me, not the one the Internet whispered I could have.  I didn't want to deal in "could" anymore.  I wanted to do.

In addition to this fast, I've been reading the Bible like a hoss.  I've been following a chronological schedule since January, and I've been trying to truck through so that I can finish the whole Bible in 180 days instead of the prescribed 365.  Starting the fast was difficult at first, I used to go to these sites for my wind-down and for pleasure, but having something of legitimate (and eternal) value to turn to instead started to make things easier.  In fact, there were many nights when I came home from work and wanted my computer to remain off.  I actually wanted to read the Bible instead.  For hours.  How weird is that?!  To top it all off, there have been some serious happenings that have compelled me to spend extremely long lengths of time in prayer.  I'm telling you, man, this has not been usual for the first 23 years of my life.

After the first week and a half, I started to feel my desire for those hollow shells drain away.  It actually became very easy to not care about it.  I was... free.  Tumblr didn't own me.  Pinterest didn't hold my happiness anymore.  Twitter didn't define my value in follower figures.

This morning, when the fast was over, I logged in to Twitter with friends clapping around me for completing this small act of sacrifice.  I scrolled down the screen for a few moments and then wanted to get back to my friends in real life.  This afternoon, I checked in to see what I'd missed on Pinterest.  Within seconds, I was incredulous.  "Why in the world was I following those boards?  How did I not get sick of all this blabber about stuff I don't really care about?  I'm not even engaged, what the heck's up with all this wedding junk?"

I checked my sister's, by BFF's, and my boyfriends pages and got off.  I, this is weird but, I didn't even want to be there.  It felt toxic to me.

Please, allow me to explain how I am not condemning any of these sites.  While they can be used for unhealthy things or to unhealthy degrees (see my life before Lent), moderation rocks, social media can be excellent tools in relationships, and a free online picture catalog is a sweet deal that I still appreciate greatly.  I hold no judgement, I only want to express how I was chained to these things and now those chains are gone.

The chains are gone.  The chains ARE gone.

The groping claw of the Internet was keeping me from living.  It was telling me that I'm only as valuable as the number of blog comments I have.  I'm only as popular as long as I'm gaining new followers.  I'm only cool if I pin the hippest things first and with the wittiest captions.  The worst part was, I was believing the lies.  I was so blinded, I was begging for husks to feed on.  I devoured what I could find on one site.  I sucked it dry then moved to the next until I was left as empty as before at the bottom of my news feed.

Now, I still struggle with how my Internet personality does not reflect my real worth.  But, I have seen what it's like to be on the other side.  I know what it's like to refuse anything less than value.  I know what it's like to depend on the Word and prayer for sustenance instead of images of what other people find their worth in.  And, I know what it's like to not need the Internet for my happiness.  Truly, God has given me back everything I sacrificed, but He gave it back to me better.  How could I ever again choose the gristle over the meat?

But, I know exactly how I could choose the gristle over the meat.

I am humbled by what God has shown me over the last 46 days.  Through my fast, my reading, my praying, the community at church, and PD's recent sermons, I've learned an invaluable lesson about choosing value.  We're designed to do so, you know.  It's been wired into our system to choose value.  We are made in God's image and, as such, God put that into us so we would seek value as He does and ultimately find Him.  I hope, I hope and I pray, I hope so badly that I will choose Him at every chance.  I know that my heart is unfaithful and foolish.  I hate that I'm going to fail Him when decisions come.  But (and this is my last "but"), He is faithful when I am not.  He has chosen me, and His hand is strong.  He will not let me go.

Praise the Lord, my Father who loves me.
I am His, and He is mine.
The victory and all power belongs to Him, and He is risen indeed.

Happy Resurrection Day!

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