Thursday, February 16, 2012
Image found at Flicker via sharing rights/ By photographer: austinvan
"So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you." Romans 12:1-2
A little while ago, I started sorting through a bookshelf in my living room. The truth is, I love books and the process of sorting through them is a difficult - but necessary task. The shelf had become so heavily loaded with books, that I could no longer see what was there, let alone browse through for something new to read. If I'm totally honest, there wasn't enough room on the shelf for all the publications. I even found a few duplicate copies of favorite ones!
Some of the books were borrowed and will go back to the original owner, some were college text books that I can resell for a decent price, but most were not worth any great monetary value - even on Amazon.com. In all, I found 40 books on ONE bookshelf that need to move on - and out of my living room. What is amazing about this, is that this was one of 8 bookshelves in my home! I'm not saying that I'm dumping my entire library, but I think I might need to sacrifice more than 40 books before all this book sorting work is said and done!
Giving up these books, from cookbooks to interior design and theology - is a sacrifice for me. I like what is inside those pages, the possibilities for projects, and the memories they hold. But, if after I've read them (or put aside after starting to read) and decide to hold on to them (even though its unlikely that I will re-read them); I'm holding out on someone who might need them more than I did in the first place.
The act of sacrifice has a way of lifting up the needs of someone else. As the season of Lent approaches, many people have already been asking me, " What are you giving up for Lent?". I usually let go of something that consumes a significant amount of time and fill that space with faith fostering practices like: reading and new devotional, studying a particular prayer practice, or focusing on the Psalms throughout Lent. All these practices have been helpful in the past, and if you have not given something like this a try - I'd encourage you to do so. Or you could consider what I have in mind for this year...
This Lent, World Vision and Inter Varsity are teaming up to challenge observers of Lent to participate in a challenge that they call :LENT 2012 - Relentless ACT:s of sacrifice.
Over the six weeks of Lent, you can follow along on their website http://worldvisionacts.org/lent2012) for a weekly discussion question and video clip to inspire you to take action this Lent to lift up the needs of others.
Here are the 6 challenges we'll be doing together:
Week 1- Sacrifice what surrounds us by re-creating our physical environments to bring important issues to the forefront of our every day lives.
Week 2- Sacrifice what feeds us by expanding our worldview through the food and information we take in.
Week 3- Sacrifice what describes us by re-examining how we represent ourselves and our priorities to others.
Week 4- Sacrifice what calls us by using our unique talents to fight injustice.
Week 5- Sacrifice what consumes us by re-orienting our everyday activities to activities that help make change in the world.
Week 6- Share our sacrifice with others by applying what we've experienced to being a creative activist and make issues come to life for others around us.
While you can do this 6 week process solely online, I'd like to encourage you to gather a group of friends to work with you on the journey. If you would like to join in on working through these questions over the next six weeks, and you are in the Chautauqua County area - drop me a line. I'm currently working on building a group to walk through this process and will be offering time during Sr. High/College/Career Sunday school hour to start this process. (Sundays 10:15-11am in the Teen/College room at First Lutheran Church of Jamestown.)
Once a week, I will be posting on the theme brought up each question. Feel free to follow my progress with this experiment in sacrifice here at Uphill Idealist.
Just like sorting out my bookshelves is an act of sacrifice, the next six weeks are going to be a process and opportunity for growth in faith and our relationships with God. Are you willing to take the challenge? With God's help, we'll get there together!
As for the books - I'm looking for some good homes for them. It's my hope that the act of letting go will help get my heart in mind in the right place to start this Lenten journey.