Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who prayed for me or left encouraging comments or emails or phone calls last week. I am so grateful for every one of you! (And sorry I didn't respond to you each individually...) I am feeling much better and grateful for God renewing my peace. : ) And I pray that God will do the same for you wherever you need it...
You probably know (even if you forgot already) that this last Wednesday was Ash Wednesday which marked the beginning of Lent. I won't pretend to know a lot about it, but this is the (ummm.... calculating.... ) 14th year that I have observed the Lenten season (40 days prior to Passover=Palm Sunday) by fasting from something. Last year I fasted from all sweet stuff except honey. It resulted in some neat revelations about honey, which meant a lot to me since my name means "Honeybee". In the past I have "fasted" from a wide variety of things... Dr. Pepper, Ice Cream, self-pity, prime-time TV and even listening to music in my car (that was 1995!) I usually know what God wants me to fast from b/c my reaction to the thought is "Oh no! I can't give up that!!!" But I'm always grateful for how much more self-control and freedom I have in each area when Lent is over. And it usually lasts!
This year is a little different. In connection with what God's teaching me about self-control/self-discipline, this year I am giving up both self-discipline and self-indulgence for Lent. The trouble with this is that it's a bit hard to measure (and explain!) The thing that I'm doing to help is keeping a chart of how I'm spending my time (the area where I need self-control the most) and at the end of the day I'm reviewing it with God. It's amazing already how He sees things differently than I do and I'm starting to recognize the difference between when I'm listening to Him and when I'm trying to discipline myself. As part of this process, I'm also reading I Thessalonians chapter 5 every day. And I am being blessed by it every day! Maybe I'll share more than just once a week what I'm learning with you... (or maybe not... we'll see) But today I wanted to point out verses 23 & 24.
"23May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it."
My God, our God, is THE God of PEACE. And HE is the One who sanctifies me. He has called me to follow Him, and He is the faithful One who will complete what He has begun in me. There is more in the earlier verses of this chapter that talk about self-control and about how God didn't "appoint us to suffer wrath", but to LIVE WITH HIM. I've been realizing that when I'm trying to discipline myself, I often am feeling guilty about what I'm doing and I feel less inclined to pray about it b/c I think I already know what God thinks about what I'm doing. I'm afraid of His wrath and avoiding Him! God wants me to remember He hasn't appointed me to suffer His wrath, but to learn from Him and to walk and live WITH Him as He leads me and teaches me. He doesn't want me to avoid Him. : )
And I don't really want to avoid Him either. : )
Until next time... "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you." (1 Thess. 5:28)