Wasting our lives and glorifying God

Wasting our lives and glorifying God
Notice God's unutterable waste of saints, according to the judgment of the world. God plants His saints in the most useless places. We say - God intends me to be here because I am so useful. Jesus never estimated His life along the line of the greatest use. God puts His saints where they will glorify Him, and we are no judges at all of where that is. ~Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest, August 10

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Beginning The Journey

Today is the beginning of Easter Season.  For years I've felt that Easter gets the short end of the holiday stick.  We celebrate Christmas for a good six weeks--from the first Sunday of Advent until our Epiphany party on January 6.  But, Easter gets a day; at the most a weekend--if you observe Good Friday.  So, in the last few years we've begun observing Lent.  We do not have a liturgical tradition in our church.  So, we did not have a lot to draw from our church and personal history.  So, we started in faith and let it grow and mature.

Yesterady was Mardi Gras.  The kids made masks and king crafts.  We ate Gumbo and Cajun Potatoes for dinner.  And I made a white chocolate cheese cake topped with fruits for dessert.

While discussing the coming of Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent, Belgee (who is almost four) declared, "I'm fasting Puttanesca!"  That gave us all a good laugh.  I don't think he understands fasting.

Neither do I.

Fasting is one of those things I've struggled with.  I've never been particularly good at it.  I know, who is? Right?  But, some people seem to have an easier time of it than I do.  I know people who have gone on FULL forty day fasts.  I know people who always seem to be fasting one thing or another.  The longest I've ever done a full food fast was 30 hours.  That was because I was leading a 30 Hour Famine for World Vision.  Other than that, I've only done a day.  Or a meal.  And with much difficulty.

Maybe I'd have more personal victory if I fasted more or better.  BUT, then Kris Vallotton spoke at our church and rocked my world about fasting.  I can't quote him word-for-word, but the gist is this:  You should fast when you are desiring more of Jesus.  The principle here being Matthew 9.  When the Bridegroom is not with you, you should fast.  You fast to increase your desire for Jesus and to increase His manifest presence in your life.

He continued by saying that when you are in the battle you should not fast, but feast.  It's a sign to the enemy that you've won and you know it.  "He prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies."  When you are in the presence of your enemies you should be enjoying all the goodness of the Lord.

That's what this season is about for me.  I'm desiring more of Jesus and I need to make some room in my soul.  My soul gets cluttered with build-up from things long ignored, calendar dates, projects other people ask me to do, and projects I put on myself.

This morning we got up early and went to St. Steven's Cathedral, an Orthodox church near our house.  I had checked online if they were having a Lent service today.  But, when I pulled into the parking lot, a little early, I didn't see many cars and no people.  I saw the priest walking across the parking lot.  So I pulled up and asked him, "Do you have an Ash Wednesday service today?"  That gave away my Lenten ignorance.  He smiled, "We are Orthodox.  Our Lent started on last Monday.  But, we do have prayers at 9am."  He suggested that if I wanted an Ash Wednesday service that I go to the St. Steven's Catholic church a few blocks away.  We drove there.  Mass had started 30 minutes before.  As it was almost over, we drove back to the Orthodox church. 

It's a beautiful building.  Breathtaking really.  The service, which was attended by only a small handful of members and some nuns and priests, was very different, but we all enjoyed it.  We stayed in the back and followed along in the service book.  Today was the Liturgy of Presanctified Gifts.  We didn't take the Eurcharist, because we are not Orthodox.  However, at the end of the service, the priest (who knew we were not Orthodox based on our previous exchange) gave out blessed bread.  He invited us forward.  He was so gracious and talked to the kids, "Children, this is not the Eucharist, but it is blessed bread.  It is a gift for you on your Lenten journey.  Today is Ash Wednesday for you and so you are just starting your journey.  And Lent is a journey.  If we do it right, we arrive at knowing Jesus better."

When we got home, we spent some time in family worship.  Each person wrote down on a piece of paper what they were giving to the Lord for Lent.  Then we burned them and used those ashes on our foreheads.

It was a very wonderful way to begin our 40 day journey. 

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.  2 Corinthians 3:18


Lady Dorothy said...

What a very kind priest. I love hearing stories like this.

Linda said...

Daja, you are an amazing Mama. What an awesome journey to begin for Easter. I am blessed, thank you for sharing your experience. And thank you to the gracious priest.
Linda Stephenson

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