Mar 012017
 

So, I set out with a strategic plan, that’s right people.  My spontaneous, right brained self was in a giving mood-it was time for the dormant logical, mathematical left brain (in which my husband uses every minute of the day) to have a turn in the driver’s seat.  Although this activity felt strange, I pushed through.  And I did have to verbally process it with someone or I am pretty sure my brain would explode.  And I digress.  All this to say, I came up with a Lenten season plan-No sugar or carbs (oh the joys of fasting-or as I call it, Getting rid of the thing which, if someone asked you to not incorporate this in your day or week, you get a little eye twitch because it doesn’t feel real fun or even possible.)  Ouch.  Since pretty much most of what I eat involves one of these (not really, but you get the point).

But in all seriousness, fasting is a spiritual discipline which only benefits us as it draws us closer to looking more like Jesus-submitting to the Father’s will and way and not our own in our day to day (and this ultimately is true life and freedom). I want to eat healthier, I want to “go to” my God for direction and comfort in the day and not have a looming donut dancing in my mind’s thoughts.

And now we get to today.  Today, some celebrate Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten season.  6 weeks of preparation/a season of grief in remembering Christ’s death on the cross in anticipation of the end-the celebration of Christ’s resurrection on Easter.  I have to admit, having not grown up in a church which partook in the Lenten season, or held an Ash Wednesday service for that matter, I was not quite sure what this day entailed.  So, I got pulled out all the spiritual stops and googled it (sorry to the Lenten scholars out there who are cringing and finding some flaws in my below summary) and here’s what I found:

The distinctive activity of Ash Wednesday services is the “imposition of ashes.” Ashes in the shape of a cross are placed on people’s foreheads as a reminder of our mortality and sinfulness.  The primary purpose of Ash Wednesday entails the biblical roots involving creation, sin, mortality, death, grace, and salvation.  It is also centered around the scriptures, “weep with those who weep” and  “confess your sins to one another.”

Pastor Mark D. Roberts says:

What I value most about Ash Wednesday is the chance for us all to openly acknowledge our frailty and sinfulness. In a world that often expects us to be perfect, Ash Wednesday gives us an opportunity to freely confess our imperfections. We can let down our pretenses and be truly honest with each other about who we are.  

So, in light of Pastor Roberts words, I confess to you my imperfections, on this Ash Wednesday: Because in spite of all my left brained efforts of carefully strategizing my no sugar/carbs fasting plan beginning today, I am drinking a Pumpkin Spice latte as I write this post.

You got it, a sugary sugar drink with extra sugar is what I ordered this morning at my favorite local coffee shop.  What a way to kick off the Lenten season as I forgot and failed right from day. 1.  Wow.  Pretty sure this 6 weeks is going.  to.  be.  long.  But I tell you this because our God is not up in heaven shaking His finger at me at this moment, because of what Jesus did for me on the cross, He is extending grace, grace and more grace mixed with some of His crazy love.

And so I encourage you to join me for the next 6 weeks and prayerfully consider something you could “let go of” in order to focus more on what God has for you in this season/year.  And if you aren’t perfect or you forget or you fail or fall to temptation, will you remember my  “failure from day 1”?  You are not alone and His promises of “His grace is sufficient for you” and “His mercies are new every morning” and “His love never fails” are for you, as they are for me today.  

And no matter whether you choose to incorporate a strategized fasting plan or not this Lenten season, will you promise me one thing?  Bask in the grace of our loving Father God and listen to this song by Hawk Nelson and “live like you’re loved” today-  Because we have life in His death.  No shame, no guilt, we are only more than enough as we walk in the freedom and love and identity as a child of God.  

Jillian

Jillian

© 2012 Standing on Peace

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Jul 012014
 

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus” Hebrews 12:1-2a (ESV)

It’s been almost 3 weeks of running with Jesus. Three 30 min runs each week plus the “big run” (or the “too long” run as I like to call it). That adds up to 25 hours and 40 minutes of talk time.

That’s right. No I pod of music to listen to. No books on cd. No running buddy to chat with. It’s some serious quality time of viewing creation and talking with God.

I won’t say it’s been easy breezy. Because I was pretty sure I was going to pass out on the 10th hill of my “too long” 8 mile run. Felt the regret of doing too many calf raises on a cross training day. Laid down my pride and walked when my strength was gone. And have wondered countless times how I am going to really pull this marathon off in the end.

But God has been good to me. I love that in all my doubt. Fears. Weak parts. He gives strength. Peace. And purpose.

In one of our many conversations within the 25 plus hours I asked God, “What am I running for? I feel I am running in vain. Sure, it will be cool to say I have completed a marathon, but because You laid this on my heart, I believe there is more to be gained.” I thought of all the “Run to fight diabetes”, “Run for cancer research”, and the list goes on and on. People are running. Overcoming. And finishing with purpose. “I want to run with purpose.” I said. “And not just any purpose, but Your purpose.”

The phrase “Run fast” came to mind. It was definitely not the word fast having to do with speed (getting one foot in front of the other in a bouncing rhythm is about all I shoot for.) It was a biblical fast.

Go with me for a minute to understand this challenging word fast. Unger’s Bible Dictionary explains the word fast is from the Greek word nesteuo, meaning “to abstain.” Like in the book of Esther, the Jews were called to abstain from food and drink in a time of spiritual trial (Esther:4:16).

The Bible gives examples of God’s people combining fasting and prayer. King David wrote that he “humbled [him]self with fasting” (Psalm:35:13). This spiritual discipline was used and is still used to draw God’s children into deeper communion and committment to Him. It reminds us we are not self sufficient. We can be pulled to other earthly things to satisfy instead of the true source of life. Jesus.

Through the course of multiple 30 minute runs, this “Run fast” phrase was on repeat in my mind. This seemed to be God’s answer to my question, “What is my purpose for running?” I could run to “abstain from”_____, praying for the purpose of________.

I began to contemplate what I would be abstaining from: A conversation came to mind. A was talking with an acquaintance about how it is difficult to live as a mother without going into stressing, worrying mode. She said, “I know, but that is the reality of life. There is no way to live without worry and anxiety.” My heart sank. Mainly because I believe so many of us women can fall into this trap of anxiety, thinking there is no other way. But I trust God and His Word and the truth is that we do not have to live with anxiety. He desires different for His daughter’s.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:6-7 (NIV)

I wanted to live differently than the “reality” of the world’s ways. As I run, I am praying through any area of anxiety that comes to mind. I am abstaining from anxiety/worry, for the purpose of gaining peace. I am on a Run Fast. I am praying for myself and all of my sister’s in Christ as I train for and run this marathon, that there would be a breakthrough of the bondage of worry.

Join me in a Run Fast as you train for a race this summer!  More details to come my friends.

 

Jillian

Jillian

© 2012 Standing on Peace

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