“Be amazed at who He is and be altered by what He commands.”
I heard this on a podcast recently. I stuck in my heart.
I asked myself, “Am I amazed at who He is?” Yes! I can point to stories both in the bible and in my life that leave me speechless and amazed at all God has done, is doing, and promises to do.
“Am I altered by what He commands?”
My response was a hesitant “yes.” I follow his commands. I pray and read His word. I don’t steal, I love others, and I…
Did you notice all the I? All that I do in regard to God’s commands?
God gently whispered to my heart you’ve got this all wrong. I am not asking what you do or how you behave in response to my commands. I am asking if you’re altered.
Do God’s commands alter me? Not just my behavior, but my heart? Am I being transformed from the inside out? Or am I trying to transform from the outside in?
Tough questions, huh?
God kept bringing Romans 12 to mind…
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice,holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conformto the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Verses 1-2)
Am I allowing God through His word, prayer, and Biblical teachers to renew my mind? The bottom line? Am I truly relying on God or on self?
I’ve relied on God completely in times of suffering, but as he healed me and circumstances changed, I began to take back the reins and rely on him less and less. In a “typical” day, I spend more time in my own strength than his.
I’d continued to study his word – probably more than ever – I’d continued praying too. But somewhere along the way I slipped into my own efforts instead of His grace.
Thankfully this realization came in God’s perfect time: Just before the start of Lent. I’ve never observed Lent. I knew next to nothing about it, except “the season leading to Easter.” Yet, as I read about Lent earlier this week, I knew God was leading me back to Him – to relying fully on and resting peacefully in Him.
Originally a preparation period for those desiring to be baptized, Lent eventually became embedded into Christian tradition as a season for the Church to symbolically follow Christ into the wilderness. It is a time for fasting and self-denial, though not for denial itself. It is a period to empty ourselves of lesser things so that we might be filled with the greater things of the gospel…Celebrated each spring as the days begin to lengthen (the term Lent is from a Saxon word meaning “lengthen”), Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, 46 days before Easter Sunday. from The Village Church
So, I am observing and engaging in Lent for the first time in my 37 years of life. Starting today, I gave up diet soda, which may not seem like a big deal to you, but oh my word. I drink at least a 2-liter a day.
That’s week one. Each week, I plan to add another “fast” until Easter Sunday. I am not sure what those will be, but I look forward to growing closer to God as I empty of self and worldly desires and fill with Him.
If you’d like to observe Lent, the Internet is full of helpful tools. My husband and I are using a guide from the Village Church along with a YouVersion app. (Search Lent, and you’ll have three options.) We’re focusing on these biblical parallels:
- The flood narrative in Genesis 6-8
- The giving of the Law to Moses on Sinai in Exodus 24: 12-18
- Elijah’s journey to Mount Horeb in 1 Kings 19: 1-12
- Jesus’ fasting and temptation in the wilderness in Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:9-12; and Luke 4: 1-13
If you’re giving up something for Lent with a desire to draw closer to God, I’d love for you to share. If you’ve slipped away from relying on Him and into relying on self, let me know how I can pray for you.