Tuesday, April 2, 2013

21 Days of Renewal

If God gives such attention to the wildflowers...

Last week the thought, the desire, began stirring ... 21 days. I asked questions--of myself and God. And He asked one very intentional question of me, "What has become your source of comfort?"

The honest answers brought to light the heart behind His question dripping with the love of a good, good Father. And so I answered: food (baking and consuming sweets to kill boredom and soothe a weary soul), wine (a glass was no longer just something I enjoyed--because I do love wine--but it was becoming my blankie at the end of a hard day), and TV (the shows were moving from entertainment to my place of escaping a hard season and losing myself in someone else's story).

It was glaringly obvious: my sources of comfort--in a long, drawn out season of financial struggle--have turned outward, external. No, I haven't outgrown my clothes, but they are definitely snug in all the wrong places. No, I don't need Alcoholics Anonymous. And I'm not disconnecting cable because it's the 'bad guy'.

No, it's not about those things--my love to bake or to enjoy a glass of wine or a certain TV program--it's about my heart and my source. When I realized I was filling my time (or desires) with these things, I also realized I was neglecting prayer, Bible reading, writing and worship. And trust me when I say that it's not about replacing one thing with another; it's about recognizing my choice to [re]source my affections and desires--to fill time and a sense of emptiness and boredom with substitutes. I was growing apathetic. I was struggling with too many days of just not caring what I did that day. It felt like work to just simply desire what I had loved doing previously, let alone do them.

Write? Not in the mood.
Spend an hour in praise and worship? Not in the mood. Plus, I forgot to charge my iPod.
GO to church? Not in the mood. I'd rather watch from home so I don't have to get dressed.
Read? Not in the mood. That requires my brain to engage.
Eat healthy? Not in the mood to plan the meals and shop well. Plus, it requires more than my budget can handle right now, so why even bother?

It's not that every day was or is a struggle or that I sat or sit on my couch from sunrise to sunset. No, this past week God began stirring in me the awareness to look at where I am today--to recognize the "slow fade" now--so that I don't wake up tomorrow and find myself lost in an every day struggle.

And so I did...

An outline of what these 21 days would look like started to form in my heart. And on Easter Sunday I read a thought that further set what was brewing in my spirit: a time to reset, to renew.

[Renew: to make like new; restore to freshness, vigor or perfection.]

Yesterday morning I woke up with these 21 days first thing on my mind. It had been cemented in. My commitment switch had been flipped 'on' while I had slept. And so I began my 21 Days of Renewal.

TO RENEW MY MIND: no TV and no DVR'ing to catch up.

TO RENEW MY SPIRIT: feasting on the Word of God and two books I've committed to reading through (Beyond Boundaries: Learning to Trust Again in Relationships and Fathered by God).

TO RENEW MY BODY: no food, only liquids--mostly water, some fresh juice on specific occasion, and my morning cup of coffee (cuz God's not religious or legalistic).

TO RENEW MY HEART: putting to memory the scripture passage below, for now and for always. I've also put a few prayer requests before God, some needing some pretty quick answers and others needing direction.

"If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with gettingso you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes." Matthew 6:30-34 [The Message}

It's not that I plan on forever giving up food (well, that's kind of obvious) or wine or TV. I know God has called me on this 21 day journey to not only renew my source, but to also reset the way I think about the external things. He's calling me to sacrifice temporarily in order to reprioritize eternally.

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