Saturday, October 5, 2013

Becoming Less (Seven Fast)

My friend Sammy and I are fasting from Media this week as part of The 7 Experiment Bible study by Jen Hatmaker.  While I did not post any blogs (nor check my comments or view count) for the entirety of the week, I did keep a daily journal.  Here are a few of my thoughts from Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.

Day 3: Sunday

This evening I received an email from Facebook; in its title it warned me that I had a whole bunch of messages and notifications pending.  I can't escape from social media even when I've escaped from it!  My curiosity has been piqued.

The sky a couple of days ago. Beautiful, right?
Sammy and I went to Deaf Church this afternoon.  I don't know American Sign Language extremely well, but I'm learning and I enjoy attending this diverse church.  Christianity Today wrote in an article a few years ago, "Christian deaf ministries estimate that only 1 percent of American deaf children will attend church as adults. Less than 7 percent will ever have the gospel presented to them in a way they can understand."

This information is flooring.  We have an almost entirely unreached people group in our neighborhoods.  There is a large and vibrant Deaf community in my town... and in my hometown as well.  The fact that 93% of deaf adults will never know the Gospel clearly breaks my heart.  As a Christian who knows fairly passable sign language, I am failing my job.

This is why Deaf Church makes me smile.  I plan to blog about this more in depth sometime, but today I wanted to talk about worship.  At Deaf Church, they hold worship before the sermon: today it was two songs that were played from YouTube lyric/music videos.  The church stood and signed the words together, led by a woman standing in the front.

This week, I've been encountering forms of worship I don't experience often enough: worship in silence, worship in undivided attention.  A community gathering to worship the Lord in sign language is something sweet to my spirit on this otherwise media-free day.

The Lord has answered one of my prayers.  Inquiry was a reason behind my fasting over the last three weeks.  I've been aware of God's answer to my question for a while now, but after a long phone conversation today with my sister, I'm even more certain.  What's neat is how this media fast came into play.  I probably wouldn't have made the phone call if it weren't for my texting restriction; both of our lives are hectic.  But I had free time without social media, I couldn't text, and so I called, and the Lord used this to further His plan.  God is faithful.

Day 4: Monday

I went to Life Group tonight after class.  We had a time of worship where songs were played through an iPod.  I wanted to exchange those brief fifteen minutes for hours.  It felt exhilerating to hear music, so sweet to be able to stand and praise God through listening to lyrics and instruments lifted in worship to Him!

During discussion time, we read John 12 and then discussed what passionate worship means.  I've known this for so long, but it's easy to forget that worship comes in so many other forms than listening to worship music, or even playing it on my own guitar.  Mary of Bethany worshiped through humility and a sweet act of love as she poured perfume upon Jesus' feet and wiped His feet with her hair.  The crowd in Jerusalem worshiped by taking palm branches and shouting, "Hosanna!"  David in the Old Testament danced, sang, and played instruments before the Lord.  Without access to my iPod or iTunes this week, I've been confronted with new ideas of worship over and over again.

Sure, there have been evenings that I've sat with my guitar and ukulele and played praise songs until my voice wore out.  I've sang all sorts of acapella songs in my quiet car.  But sitting in silence and meditating on the Lord's goodness is worship.  Time spent in prayer is worship.  Giving away possessions to people who are loved unfailingly by God is a form of worship.

I love music.  I love worshiping through music.  But it isn't the only way to praise my Creator. 

Sammy called tonight and said, "I really just want to listen to music.  I'm willing to come over to your house and listen to you play the guitar if it means listening to music."  I get it!  My eyes are craving some screen time.  My ears are craving some of my favorite beats.

I didn't know how to respond, so I finally said, "I guess just try thinking of all the reasons you're not listening to music."  We laughed at my Jesus juke and she's definitely going to use the same thing against me the next time I complain. 

So I will.  Here's a short list of why I'm not turning to media today.
  • God has asked me to be still.
  • Music is not my coping mechanism.  TV is not my coping mechanism.  Quality time with my Father is what gives me peace and security.
  • If I can't give up something for a week out of a worshipful spirit, that thing is teetering dangerously close to idol-status in my life.  Not okay.
  • Boredom is silly.  Media is not the only source of entertainment in my life.
  • Jesus gave everything for me.  I can give up these things. 

Day 5: Tuesday

I am weary.  I only got a few hours of sleep last night, I attended three college classes, and then I went to math tutoring.  As I arrive home late this evening, I have a headache, I'm exhausted, and all I want to do is crash in front of my computer and watch an episode of some television show.  Any show.  I just want to stop thinking.

My mom called me and said that she has been so tempted to just cheat on the TV aspect of her fast for one day.  Just for one day and then she'll keep fasting until Friday.  I was secretly debating the same thing in my head.  It isn't like I even watch TV that much, but when I've had a long and stressful day, the idea of relaxing through media is just so appealing.

I know all of this sounds silly.  It shouldn't be a big deal to unplug my screens for a week, and in the grand scheme of things, it isn't.  But today I'm just tired.  I don't want to read.  I don't want to study.  I don't even feel like spending time in the Prayer Room (just being honest here).  But I'm about to tune my guitar and head there anyway.  My frustration means it's time for another heart check. 

No more complaining, Emily.

Last night, I was was reading the end of the book of Mark.  In chapter 14, Jesus went to the garden of Gethsemane to pray.  His agony was heart-wrenching, yet His steadfast obedience did not waver.  "'Abba, Father,' He said, 'everything is possible for You.  Take this cup from me.  Yet not what I will, but what You will.'"  Jesus brought His disciples to watch and pray a short distance away, but their eyes were heavy.  They fell asleep time and time again.  Jesus spoke to them and said, "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."  These words hit me hard tonight. 

My spirit is willing to fast.  The idea of giving up media in order to focus more of my thoughts on Jesus fills me with a delight and a desire to please the Lord.  But my flesh is weak.  Not just a little bit weak.  I described the weariness I'm feeling today to my friend Stephanie as "an ant trying to lift a car."  I'm just so weak in my flesh, and when I am feeling discouraged, the enemy works even harder to try to make me stumble.

Would the Lord extend His endless grace and compassion upon me if I were to break fast at five days instead of seven?  Of course He would.  This week isn't meant to be legalistic.  But I'm still not going to break fast early.  Not because I'm obligated, but because He is worth it

Jesus sacrificed everything.  He was spit upon and mocked and killed like a common criminal.  He died with a great cry, giving Himself as payment for the sins of this broken world.  He gave it all.  Putting this into perspective, yeah, I can certainly sacrifice relaxing this evening in front of a computer screen.  I can give up daily comforts as a form of worship to the One who gave it all.  My sacrifices are dirty rags.  He desires the devotion of my heart.  Undivided love.  And that's why this media fast is important to me.

John 3:30 keeps running through my head.  "He must become greater; I must become less."  If me becoming less means unplugging, disconnecting, and sacrificing my comfort in order to praise Jesus more and more, so be it.  He is worth it.  He is worth every moment.

Two years ago: We found the missing link!
Three years ago: Leave a dollar

No comments:

Post a Comment