Thursday, April 5, 2012

Uncomfortably Satisfied

I would have fallen asleep.

"Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!” (Matthew 26:40-41 NLT) The last part of this verse really sums up my relationship with God. I desire Him. Truly, I do. And yet, I fail miserably. All too often, I choose comfort. 99 times out of 100, I'll take the easy way out. That's why, assuming I had the privilege of being asked by Jesus to pray with him the night he was arrested, I believe my tired body would have won.

A couple of years ago, I felt challenged to give up something for the Lenten season. This was a first in my life. I didn't grow up participating in the practice of Lent. I understood that every day was to be lived for God so I never really understood what was so special about people giving up meat on Fridays. Not to mention the fact that many of the people I knew who participated in this practice could not explain to me why they did it.
As an adult, conversations continued in seeking the explanation behind this season called "Lent". People I love and respect were able to back up what they believed with what they practiced. And maybe, a part of me was finally able to admit I was a bit self-righteous. I quit judging and spent a little more time listening. After truly examining my heart and admitting I was a more than slightly uncomfortable with this out-of-the-norm-practice for my life, I got real. I decided my reasoning that we were to sacrifice daily for God was a cop-out. Maybe it was time for me to experience a bit of discomfort. It didn't matter what others did or why they did it. All that mattered was whether or not I was willing to step out of my comfort zone in order to experience more of God.

"You satisfy me more than the richest feast." These words in Psalm 63:5 convicted my heart. I was faced with whether I truly believed this verse. If I was completely honest with myself, I had to answer "no". Given the choice between sweet foods or my Savior, the actions of my life spoke volumes as to who (or what) was on the throne of my life. So, for a Lenten season, I fasted from sweets. It was a growing experience that drew me closer to Christ. Every time I found myself reaching for desserts, I was faced with "What truly satisfies?"
Reintroducing rich foods into my diet on Easter, I found myself back to the old ways of relying on food to fill my emotions. Where do I turn for comfort? In times of stress, is the pantry or refrigerator the first place I turn? I found it to be no coincidence that Bible verse after Bible verse spoke to my heart and had me thinking about my relationship with food as well as my relationship with God. "Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! Fear the Lord, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need. Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing." (Psalm 34:10 NLT)

This year, I didn't give up anything specifically for Lent. My understanding of this practice is to focus our minds and hearts on what Jesus did at Calvary for us. As we find ourselves reaching for the forbidden-fruit-for-a-season, our eyes should be turned to God as we talk to Him in prayer and remember the reason behind the abstinence. It was months ago that my heart was convicted to dethrone desserts as the god of my life.
Now, I realize that some may find my reference to chocolate as a deity extreme. After all, everyone needs to be able to enjoy a little celebration every now and then. While I agree, our celebrations should not come at the expense of our relationship with Jesus. (Not to mention that my celebrations occurred all too often as well as alone.) "You say, 'I am allowed to do anything'—but not everything is good for you. And even though 'I am allowed to do anything,' I must not become a slave to anything. You say, 'Food was made for the stomach, and the stomach for food.' (This is true, though someday God will do away with both of them.) ...They were made for the Lord, and the Lord cares about our bodies. And God will raise us from the dead by his power, just as he raised our Lord from the dead." (1 Corinthians 6:12-14)
"Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need." (Luke 12:31) This is my calling: to seek God above all else. ANYTHING that creeps into this position outside of God is an idol in my life. I'm quick to say I live for Jesus. But are my actions shouting louder than my words in contradiction? When Jesus is asking me where I stand in my relationship with Him, would I rather have the rich feast or the riches of God? What is it that truly satisfies my soul?

As Jesus spoke to his beloved disciples on the night he was arrested, I am living in a new light these days. For in my own strength, I will fail. It's with my eyes on Jesus that I will truly experience the fullness of the best He has for me. "Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!” (Matthew 26:40-41 NLT)
What is it that you feel you can't live without? The only answer to this should be Jesus. In the end, He is all that will matter.

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