I was trying to find a normal picture of the two of us. I cropped us out of a group picture a few days ago, so there's that. Otherwise, we pretty much have only posed in the strangest of situations, which kind of describes our friendship pretty well.
But this is Sammy and me.
Sammy is one of my best friends. She is always up for an adventure. She encourages me when I need it and speaks bluntly when I need that too. She likes peppy music and recently took up longboarding.
Over 9 weeks, we are undertaking a challenge-filled Bible study. It's called The 7 Experiment: Staging Your Own Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker. I've definitely mentioned it here before. I am learning so much from this study already, so if you are looking for a Bible study, I so highly recommend this one. You can purchase the workbook here.
7 features seven different fasts from excess and the American Dream, focusing on the topics of: clothes, spending, waste, food, possessions, media, and stress.
One of my favorite parts of this Bible study so far is the way it has broadened my perspective on what it means to fast. I've fasted before in church and club settings, but it has always been a legalistic process. No food for this many hours. Once I was called out for drinking juice during a group fast. While I thought it was a fast from foods, my friend scolded me for not choosing to only drink water. Her words left me feeling confused and guilty. This is not the point of a fast!
Rules and legalism and guilt should not be the foundations of a fast. Jen Hatmaker expanded on six reasons that people fast in the Bible: mourning, inquiry, repentance, preparation, crisis, and worship.
I chose to focus on three over the next two months:
- Inquiry: Does God want me to "go" or "stay"?, as well as a few other questions I am asking the Lord during this time.
- Repentance: for my selfish heart and love of excess and focus on pleasing others above pleasing God.
- Worship: because the Lord is so worthy of my fasting with a sincere heart, out of my own motivation.
The focus of these challenges should be about learning and changing perspectives, not about how cool it is that anyone is abstaining from excess for seven weeks. No, in reality, the fact that I'll be simplifying my life is not even that strange. It would look absurd from the viewpoint of anyone who has lived in simplicity or poverty their entire life. Emily's narrowing down what she's going to wear to only four t-shirts this week, oh snap. No, this entire experiment is to remind myself of how blessed I already am and how God is commanding me to live.
Hopefully the things I learn can also encourage you to seek the Lord's heart on the same issues. If you ever have any opinions or words of wisdom about these things, please share in the comments. I am so eager to learn from anyone who has been given perspective about excess and God's heart for the needy.
Yesterday, Sammy shared a fantastic picture of our lives right now as Americans living in wealth and prosperity. Imagine yourself running to God, unhindered and free. Now imagine yourself running while clutching your possessions: clothes, cups of expensive coffee, shoes, computer, dragging an expensive house behind you. How much less free are we to pursue God's plan for us when we are hindered by possessions that we cling to much more than we'd like to admit?
I'd like to end with John 3:30, which says, "He must become greater; I must become less.”
If you'd like to join me and Sammy in this experiment, please do so! You can order the 7 Workbook online or get it at your nearest Christian bookstore. I'll be updating you weekly on things the Lord is showing me. If you could, be in prayer for us over the next two weeks, not so much that we'll survive this (because honestly, it shouldn't be hard to put God over our comforts), but that we'll enter this with the right intentions in our hearts and with total humbleness before our Creator.
As of yesterday, our first challenge has begun: Food.
Two years ago: Do I like Ted Dekker?
Three years ago: 5 Things I Can't Live Without