Several months ago, one of my faves started talking about The 7 Experiment by Jen Hatmaker.
She told me about this woman who determined areas of excess in her life and fasted from those areas to be more like Christ. She was excited to start reading the book and the concept certainly seemed interesting, if not completely foreign, not only to me, but to America as a whole.
I listened to her pre-summary, then walked away thinking, "That's not me. Not only is my life okay, but I'm not sure I'm willing to give up some of these pieces of daily life that this book is going to call me to."
She read the book and began sharing with me the burden God put in her heart for the poor, lowly, and deprived people, not only in this country, but throughout the world. She talked about what God taught her and convicted her of through 7 and I was intrigued, but still couldn't help but think- "She's more Godly than me and is so much further along in how we are truly supposed to love others. This isn't the book for me. I'm just not there yet."
Then Granny died and I saw the body of Christ at work in an awesome, comforting, and real way. I saw that many of past my responses to hurt or death had not mirrored this perfect grace God has shown me and my family.
Then we had probably the thousandth conversation about our budget and how much of our money is spent on things we never see.
Then we cleaned out for EA's big girl room and threw/ gave away tons of stuff. More stuff than we ever or could need. Hundreds of dollars of items that have sat in a room for 4+ years and been useless.
Then we spent several days barely speaking to each other, not because we were angry or fighting, but because we couldn't seem to put down our phones with Twitter or Pinterest or Instagram long enough to look each other in the face and have a conversation.
Then we had another conversation about our health and the junk we put in our body under the rouge of time saving or fellowship or simple cravings to have something "different" to eat or to just get out of the house.
Then I completely stressed out over our schedule, which I set, because it was too full and didn't allow time for me to spend with my sweet child or for us to spend with each other.
And I realized- God was prepping me for a change. The timeliness of this response from my friend and these "outside" elements were not an accident.
Because as a believer in Jesus Christ, each of these things matter:
-How we care for others, both known and unknown, Americans and Internationals.
-How we spend our money
-How we hold on to the things of this world
-How we invest in things unseen rather than the relationships that are necessary for spreading the Gospel
-How our bodies are a Temple of the Holy Spirit, not just a waste zone for the latest cravings
-How we are called to rest and to focus on God and our families through the Sabbath
So I caved and I read the book.
And I must say, it was excellent.
As an avid blog reader, I adored her "blog" format. I found myself rolling on the floor with laughter in one section and completely convicted in the next. It was the perfect mix for a girl who could not finish a non-fiction book if her life depended on it.
But though I was convicted and brimming to change, I was still unsure how this was going to look for the Johnson's. The couple who are desperately trying to live on a budget, pregnant with gestational diabetes, way over extended in commitments that are truly commitments, not just one week deals, and about to squeeze another big change into their lives in about 10 weeks. How on earth do we make these changes when so much of our life in planned and ingrained by our habits?
Honestly, the timing and facts of the next few steps is kind of fuzzy, but somehow, I ended up with The 7 Experiment: Staging Your Own Mutiny Against Excess. Not only is this the original 7 in Bible study format, it also includes each of the 7 fasts, at 5 days a piece.
What an excellent way to begin refocusing, to see which parts of these truly need change in our lives, and to see what God has in store.
I am pumped.
I will officially begin the Bible study tomorrow with a group of about 12-15 women from our church, including homegirl who started this whole charade months ago, and it's going to be awesome.
1-6 It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.
7-10 Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.
Ephesians 2:1-20 The Message (Emphasis by me :) )
I know that right now I am still letting "that old stagnant life of sin" creep in, but I am excited and ready for change, because He has work ready for us to do and we would be useless not to do it.