Tuesday, April 6, 2010

What I Learned...

Over the course of Lent, I decided to do an “Internet as entertainment” fast.  I decided that over the course of Lent I was going to give up the internet for all forms of entertainment.  This meant that I didn’t do any sort of Facebook, blogging, forums, YouTube, etc.  It was an interesting time to say the least, but it was good.

The first week of Lent I was in Costa Rica on a short term mission trip.  I did blog about each day on the trip, so the fast wasn’t fully in place.  But I felt it was necessary to use the internet here because it was the main form of communication with some people that donated to the trip.  I do think it was a little easier starting the fast coming back to business as usual being that I had very minimal internet access for two weeks before. 

The first week back in my office after Costa Rica was an interesting time.  It was pretty easy to leave Facebook and the forums alone.  Not blogging was a little tougher to handle, although I did write a bit during this time.  There will be a few posts that I have written over Lent that you will see in the coming weeks.  But the first week was good.  The first thing I noticed was that all of a sudden I had an hour at the end of the day that was free.  Now you may be thinking, “An hour?  Really?!?!  Holy crap man, you’re addicted!”   Well, I don’t really think so.  If you do the math, that’s only 12 short 5 minute stops at Facebook throughout the day.  It adds up.  As I’m in and out of my office, I would often sit and open Facebook quick, check a couple things, post a silly status, make a funny comment on a friend’s status, all of a sudden….BAM, five minutes gone.  So in the absence of these little five minute spurts, all of a sudden I have an hour to do…whatever!  As I said in a previous post, I was going to spend this time in prayer and Bible reading, etc.  I first started to catch up on my Bible reading.  I cruised through Exodus and started Deuteronomy.  I also picked up my guitar for the first time in months and played through some worship songs in my office.  I had small, intimate worship times in my office, alone.  It was a great time to reflect, especially since it’s Lent, on what Christ did for us. 

On top of my new found hour at the end of the day, I was motivated to get back into the gym.  I didn’t want to lose what the work in Costa Rica did to my body.  So I decided to take an hour at lunch and hit the gym.  Those that know me know that I’m not in any sort of Men’s Health shape.  I’ve been a big guy my whole life and I’ve decided it’s time to not be.  The idea of getting back into the gym was partially trying to get healthy, but also (with all the open time/reading I’ve been doing) I needed to get out of my office more. 

The really cool thing that I experienced through Lent was a deeper understanding of the Passion.  I’ve been a church kid my whole life, I’ve heard the Passion story A LOT!  The issue we run into when we hear something over and over again is that it begins to feel stale.  But this year it seemed fresh.  I think it was because of my extra time in the Word, worship, and with God.  Also, on top of this, I’ve been taking my Middle Schoolers through a great curriculum called Old Skool Jesus (youth pastors, find it HERE).  It’s a 12 week study on the person of Jesus.  It’s been great because it leads middle schoolers into deep conversations about who Jesus was, what he did, was he fully God, was he fully human, how does Jesus’ claim of salvation compare to other religions, etc.  The week before Holy Week we went through the physical effects of crucifixion on a person’s body and then talked about our physical, emotional, and spiritual reactions to this.  It was very impacting and for the first time in years and years, reading the Passion story, alone in my office, brought me to tears.  And somehow this silly little experiment we call fasting for Lent made total sense.  It’s not supposed to be a time of suffering.  Lent and fasting are supposed to be preparation times that we put away something that keeps us from seeing the true meaning of the season.  It’s a form of repentance, a type of turning away from the comforts we have placed in our lives and turning towards Jesus.  It’s not legalism, it’s not feel-good Jesus, it’s simply and purely relationship.  It’s this relationship that makes it all real, makes it all true.  It’s this relationship and the absence of it that makes Christianity unbelievable to the unbeliever.  It’s this relationship that cannot be fully known by reading the Bible, going to church on Sundays and youth group on Wednesdays.  It’s this relationship that has to be experienced by the believer, trusted in during the dry times, and rejoiced in during the high times.  As the late and great Johnny Cash sings, “Your own…personal…Jesus…”

My 2¢.

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