Monday, February 26, 2007

Lenten Update...

Okay, so I wrote in the previous post about our decision to give up TV and movies for Lent. We have been TV and movie-free for 6 days. Within those six days, Charlie and I have both battled sickness, Emma came down with a fever and cold, we were invited to dinner by Mormons, Charlie has faced several challenging situations with his staff at work, and Olivia was diagnosed with two ear infections and Type A and B influenza. I'd say we're under attack.

I can't say I've remained completely calm. I was practically screaming at God to take control of my mind on the way to the doctor's office this afternoon. I have felt a continual sweeping and re-sweeping of the floor of my heart all day as the Holy Spirit has attempted to keep me clean. It is wearisome. I keep remembering the words of my good friend and teacher, Lyn's: "Oh what blessings we will have missed because we could not weather this." I know there is a blessing in here somewhere!

Charlie has been reading the book of Nehemiah and sharing with me some things the Lord has been showing him. In the very last chapter, Nehemiah writes that while he was away from Jerusalem, the people went astray. They misused temple space, denied the Levites their portion, broke the Sabbath with work, and allowed foreigners to buy and sell on the Sabbath. Nehemiah records his reprimands and subsequent cleansing of the temple and reinstitution of the Sabbath rest. He then positioned guards at the walls to keep the foreigners from tempting the Israelites to buy and sell on the Sabbath. Only after Nehemiah himself shouts from the wall, threatening harm to the foreigners, do they stay away.

Today, I was thinking about how God has led us to sanctify ourselves in a small way as a family. We did so willingly and with cheerful hearts, anticipating a deeper walk with the Lord. It's only been six days but it has not been the happy adventure I had in mind. Somewhere, though, in my spirit, I know that God is showing Himself strong for us. He is revealing His character to us. I thought all day about Nehemiah and about how grieved he must have been to return to Jerusalem to find the people going astray. I thought about the wall he helped build. I thought about him placing his servants at the gates to keep temptation to disobey outside the walls of Jerusalem. I know that God is my strong tower and the wall around my heart. I know that Jesus stands guard at the gate, keeping temptation at bay. I know the enemy is encamped around me, waiting for me to open the gates enough to let a fiery dart in. I know my Savior Himself shouts down those darts. I also know that whatever Jesus allows through that gate is ultimately working for my good.

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

"No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it." 1 Corinthians 10:13

I think I felt convicted to share what we are experiencing because sometimes obeying the Lord doesn't feel glorious; it is glorifying. Unfortunately, we are socialized to "feel good" and receive instant gratification for our good deeds. We almost can't stand not getting a pat on the back for doing the things the Lord commands us to do. I wanted to share that sometimes the road of obedience is filled with potholes and flat tires, hairpin turns and long stretches of the straight and narrow. In the end, we will be more conformed to the image of Christ and He promises to never leave us stranded along the way. We'll see how the next 34 days go. For the time being, tomorrow is our seventh day and since the Lord rested on His seventh day, I will rest in Him tomorrow, knowing that He is in complete control. Amen and Amen.