An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess

I recently finished reading Jen Hatmaker’s 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. If you’ve spent any amount of time with me in the last few weeks, I will have mentioned it. I talked about it incessantly.

In a nutshell, the author – Jen – embarked on a 7-month project to examine and reduce seven areas of excess in her life. She started off with food, consuming only seven types of food the whole month. Then she moved on to clothes, wearing only seven items the whole month. And so this continued. During the very last month, she committed to praying seven times a day – each time with a different focus.

There were definitely moments in the book that challenged me to consider whether I would be willing to part with some of the excess that exists in my life. We live a very fortunate and blessed life, but what good is that if it isn’t shared with others? What does it mean to be the hands and feet of Jesus? How does a modern day Christ follower live out their life according to His purpose with His blessings? I definitely want to do a rendition of this project for myself, but I’m not yet sure what this will look like. For a little while, I thought maybe I could focus on a different global issue to learn about so that I might be able to pray more boldly and take specific action in that arena. However, I think part of what this book draws out is the need to take action against seemingly mundane choices that we make, and to be more conscious of the areas of excess in our own life.

In the mean time, I shall continue pondering the convictions that I have, but if you haven’t read this book, I highly suggest it. And if you’re in the KFPL service area, I’m returning my copy to the library on Monday.

 

shfiting perceptions

this afternoon, kelvin and i listened to a whole slew of sunder krishnan sermons via the rexdale alliance website. something i love about listening to his sermons is that he is so passionate about living rightly, and he really reflects all the glory to God and not to himself. we listened specifically to his series on idols, and it dawned on me that there are a million different ways for us to screw up in what we do and in our relationship with God. but God is good, and He is merciful. his grace covers us, and that is something that we cannot earn or work towards, but it is something that is freely given.

something that i have always struggled with is this notion that i need to be happy all the time. in my junior high years, i felt a strong pressure to portray optimism, whether authentic or artificial, and this is something that has followed me into my adulthood. it has also affected my prayer life – keeping me from praying with abandon. i am so reserved and timid in what i ask, and this reflects how i see God. frequently, i forget who God really is, and i try to mold him into an image that i can comprehend. how wrong i am in doing this!

coupled with that, i am starting to realize the pervasiveness of some of the idols i hold in my life. whereas others may have money or status as idols, i cling to control and security. i want to know that i have things together and that i can make things happen. with every achievement, i feed my ego rather than give glory to God, and pride starts to take root in my heart. sunder’s message on idolatry really spoke truth into my life, and one catchphrase that he kept on repeating was “idols cannot be removed; they need to be replaced”. it is futile to try with my own strength to let go of the control i want or the security i crave. take a listen to his “canadian idols” series for his inspiring message.

falling on my knees

tonight was our first small group bible study session. we’re doing francis chan’s crazy love study series, and so far the discussion, video, and readings have really challenged me to rethink the way i approach God in prayer. growing up, i was one of those kids who sped through my mealtime prayers really quickly. i said the same prayer every time…

God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food. By his hand we are fed, thank you God for daily bread. amen.

over time, that speed and lack of thought spilled over into my devotional prayer. spending time with God started to become a routine that i just needed to do, but that meant very little. there are mornings when i lie in bed and do morning prayer in a semi-alert state, drifting in and out of sleep. this is no way to approach the creator of the universe.

what i desire is a prayer life that is authentic, that is fresh and new. i want to wake up energized, ready to meet my maker, awestruck by his majesty and his goodness. God has been so good to me (more on this in another post – i have some awesome news to share!) and i continue to be grateful for all his blessings, but i crave that intimate relationship i can have with Him. that is the relationship he has called me to, allowing his love, grace, and mercy to flow out of me.

it is exciting to be in community with other Christians around my age and life stage again. i look with anticipation to what will happen in the coming months :)

consider it pure joy…

…whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. perseverance much finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (james 1:2-4)

trials are a part of life. we are given them so that we can grow, and so that we can experience new things. for me, the move to kingston was, and continues to be, one such trial. something that i have not doubted is that God wants me to be here in this city. not only can i continue to serve Him and be involved in different ministries, He has also given me the chance to contribute in my own way to the community. i have loved being close to kelvin and his family, to my sister, and to all the lovely things this city has to offer. at the same time, the seeming idleness that comprises most of my day has been slowly taking a toll on my creativity, my motivation, and my love for this place.

when you’re in school, you look longingly to the summer, when you will be free to do whatever you want on your own schedule (and, i suppose, your work schedule). you pine for those days where you can actually do nothing if you feel like it. the past month has been a little bit like that. i have no set time i really need to wake up, so it’s often 9:30 or 10 by the time i get out of bed. i have a few hours to read and do random things until i head off to volunteering or to work. when i come home, i eat, maybe play some games, or just relax. i am very thankful for this break, but i know that it’s time to get moving again.

in the midst of all this, i am planning for the imminent move into my new house. i am so excited for it, and i cannot wait to make it my own. however, the reality of paying for the maintenance of a home, all the things that come with it, furnishings, repairs…it’s really overwhelming. being the stubborn person that i am, i really wanted to manage all this on my own, but i realized it was virtually impossible with my current resources. thankfully, i have been blessed with people around me who support me and who have encouraged me to fix my eyes on Christ first and foremost. kelvin, who is somehow always able to lift my spirits, reminded me of God’s providence – He might not provide for me through anonymously sending me the money i need, but He will make sure i have my necessities, in His own way.

and as always, God continues to be faithful. He has been answering my prayers at the speed of lightning (which leaves me entirely amazed). i haven’t been able to make it out to prayer meetings at church because of my work schedule, but i am encouraged that they have been supporting me in prayer. the one week we were getting really exasperated with our house hunt, we lifted it up to God, and by the next week, we had found a house, and had successfully purchased it. and yesterday, they prayed for my job search, and by the end of the prayer meeting, we got news that the occasional teacher list for the board here had opened up. i know that prayers will not always be answered this quickly, and this directly, but may this serve as a reminder for me in the same way that the stones reminded the israelites of God’s faithfulness.

God is faithful, and He loves us. May all glory and praise go to Him.