Tuesday, May 08, 2012

It Costs Everything: Update #3

The best blogs have frequent and regular posts that aren't too long.  Usually the knowledge of that fact would cause me to strive to have that kind of a blog.  Lately I'm content to have a blog that probably isn't the best.

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

I tried fasting one day a week during Lent.  This felt very sacrificial until I confided it to a young friend who has fasted for more than a week several times during the last year, and who planned to fast the first and last weeks of Lent as part of her celebration of Easter.

The first couple of fasting days were disasters.  I say this with confidence that humility is a great teacher...I hope.  I started well and finished badly, convincing myself at the end of the day that since I had not fasted for many years, I could cut myself some slack.  The morning and afternoon went great, and even the supper hour was fine.  Then, I would decide that a two meal fast was still a fast and I would decide to have a late evening meal.  That was not a good decision, because by then I was too hungry and I ate enough calories to make up for all the lost meals of the day and then some.  So I got in touch with my own brokenness.  My version of being unable to stay awake and pray, possibly.

The rest of the weeks I did not allow the evening gorging.

Easter:  During all of the weeks I took extra time for thinking, reading, prayer, and journaling. 

The chosen passages highlighted not only the prophecy of the passion, but also Jesus' willingness to give everything.

That night in the garden Jesus came to God again and again, asking to not have to go through with the plan...to be spared.  How much of what was ahead did he know?  It doesn't matter.  He knew enough to be scared, and to wish for a reprieve.

Throughout his life, Jesus spoke of sacrifice.  Sell all you have.  Whoever loses his life will save it but whoever tries to save his life will lose it.  Jesus told us to count the cost, and then told us it costs everything to follow him. 

There is a lot of theology about why Jesus had to die, and most of it I can repeat without a real sense of understanding.  I know the idea of a sacrifice for our sins, the teaching that blood had to be shed in order for our forgiveness to happen.  Maybe someday that part of it will be real to me, but for now, it is hard for me to believe that the God who said he hates our sacrifices and desires mercy, justice, and humility is unable to forgive my sins without a blood sacrifice.  I admit that my understanding may yet change about this, but for now, that part of it just does not resonate with me.

However, Jesus asked us to be willing to lay down our lives to follow him.  He asked us to pray for our enemies and bless those who curse us.  He said to follow him even if it cost everything.  And then he showed us how to do it. 

I want to be so passionate about Jesus that I'm not afraid to die doing what Jesus calls me to do.  But that is silly.  Jesus was passionate enough about us that he was willing to die, but fear or dread was still present even for Jesus.   Fear is not a reason to hold back when you know a right thing to do.

Everyday life:  I'm finding that the large acts of service to the kingdom of God look much more inviting than the everyday intersections that my life has with brokenness.  Somehow it would be so much more romantic to begin a new ministry with some faceless and nameless group of people out there.  Not so romantic to be a servant to those whose faces and names I already know.  In this journey to be more consciously a part of God's kingdom the personal lesson for me seems to be to focus on people I'm already meeting in my every day life.  There are "the least of these" already in my circle.  Sometimes I chafe at the time that they require, because I could be doing something 'big' for God.  That thought is an arrogant thought.

I'm also finding myself apologizing more frequently.  Either I'm messing up more or I'm more aware of messing up, but apologies have been a larger part of my life lately.