Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Lent: A Call to Freedom and Maturity

This Lenten season I have been thinking a lot about freedom in Christ. Perhaps, not a completely traditional theme for Lent, but I've been pondering the sense of freedom that comes when you release everything that is not Christ.

I am in Christ, and therefore free of the pull that the world has on me. I am free from fighting for my personal "rights," free from expectations about my life, free from materialism...all things the world promises will bring fulfillment, yet, do not. And still, my flesh spends so much of my waning energy on things that don't matter, when Christ offers me a yoke that is easy, and a burden that is light (Matt. 11.30). It is for freedom that Christ set us free (Gal. 5.1)!

Recently, God has been speaking to our family about release...release from the things that hinder us from following Christ wholly. The way our culture feeds us lies about our rights and our need for comforts, it seems counter-intuitive to find joy and freedom in the absence of these things, but there is. We are experiencing it a little more each day.

Lent reminds us that we can be gloriously free from everything that is not Christ, but, it also exhorts us to a maturity that accepts all that is.

Freedom comes at a cost, namely Christ's, but Lent is a season that we remind ourselves that, as followers of Christ, we share in the lowliness and suffering of Christ as well. How can we expect to share in the freedom and not in the lowliness?

Yet, even in this there is freedom--the freedom to choose maturity and the road to Calvary, as Christ did. In Gethsemane our Lord prayed, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will." (Mat. 26:39). Christ chose to drink from the cup of suffering. Only hours before he asked His disciples to also share in this cup at the Lord's Supper. It is offered to you and to me as well. Will we drink of the cup Christ shared in, or do we imagine ourselves exempt?

In Christ we are free to choose freedom in the Spirit or to choose the bondage of our flesh. It seems like an obvious choice, but it takes maturity in Christ to find the resolve to do it, for choosing to walk in the Spirit, as in Christ's life, will often lead us directly into suffering.

Yet, Lent also reminds us that our God did not call us to a path He was not Himself willing to walk. We follow the footsteps of Jesus Christ, who was unwavering in His journey to the cross. He offers to walk beside us if we will hold on to His hand with everything we have. As Christians, our greatest aim is to be like Christ. So, let us use this season to refocus and recommit ourselves to the path He, and so many saints before us, have trod...the lowly path to eternal glory.

This Lent faithfully walk in freedom, walk in maturity, walk in humility, knowing that our Lord walks with us.

For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”
Isaiah 41:13

Monday, February 4, 2013

Too Much Stuff to Go?

Recently, Andrew and I have been talking about how ready we are to answer God's call. We determined that we aren't as ready as we thought.

Our years as inner-city missionaries and the last year of transition have helped us look at things different, it's true, but we have so much more to learn. We never expected to leave St. Louis, but we have since realized that we weren't really thinking like missionaries. A missionary is on a mission, and any good mission has a beginning, middle, and, most importantly, an end. The last thing a good missionary should ever do is become entrenched. This is not to say that staying in one place for a long period of time is a bad thing, but it should be done because God directs it, not because it's hard to leave. Staying should be as active a decision as leaving and we must be ready to stay or to go at God's command.

Along with a change in thinking we realized that we needed a lifestyle change. If we are to be ready to be on mission, we need to be able to travel light. WE. DO. NOT. TRAVEL. LIGHT. We have stuff upon stuff--too much stuff. It's happened gradually, mainly because we don't get rid of things. We both get sentimental and I'm cheap...if I paid for it once I don't want to have to buy it again someday. But, it's hard to move stuff and I cringe when I think about ever having to move again. If stuff becomes a hindrance to joyfully following my Savior then it's got to go! Plus, Andrew heard a news story about clutter where the "expert" reminded people that almost everything that clutters up our homes can be replaced for $20 in 20 min, which I have found to be fairly accurate as I mentally catalog our junk.

So, we have begun a purge project in our house. I'm sure what we feel is a huge cut may still seem small to others, but we have to start somewhere. What it really requires is a lifestyle change, which is a process, but we are committed to making a change!

The last thing we would ever want is for stuff to be the reason we can't follow (or don't want to follow) Jesus anywhere He may ask us to go.