Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Lent Day 2: Is your glass full or empty?

A scene we'll miss: MT rivers
How life feels depends on our focus. Ditto for Lent.

Participants choose to dwell on what they're doing without (feeling deprived) or on what they're gaining (feeling full and satisfied in Christ).

This year is filled with change for W and me. We're transitioning from life-as-we-know-it to a completely new environment (moving from Seattle to Indonesia), tackling new work (from university faculty to language students), and experiencing a new culture (from American to Indonesian). We don't have much concrete information, but we assume:
  1. There will be more unknowns than certainties in our future
  2. We will experience many shocks in transitioning to a foreign land
  3. We're moving into a vibrant and old culture, finding new friendships and participating in adventures we couldn't dream up "back home"
  4. God has called us to this so we're excited to go
  5. Every loss here prepares us to open our hands and hearts to new relationships and experiences there
  6. Our glass is being emptied in order to be filled to the brim and overflowing
Beauty everywhere: we're leaving
our Seattle forest behind,
for the jungles of Indo
Aren't you grateful that God sent Jesus from the perfection of heaven to the messiness of earth? Until He experienced life and death among us, we could not be healed from what ails us.

So, does your glass feel empty or full? Are you focused on gratitude or worried about not having enough?

Here's a bonus for those of you interested in culture and how people live in other parts of the world? We'll be sending a weekly photo and cultural note from Bandung. If you'd like it emailed to you, send us your e-address: with the subject line: Bandung.

Read more:
*They did not thirst when he led them through the deserts; he made water flow for them from the rock. Isaiah 48:21 ESV

*For this is what the high and exalted One says--he who lives forever, whose name is holy: "I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. Isaiah 57:15 NIV

*Jesus says, "Those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life." John 4:14 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Lord, the waters of your Spirit refresh our souls and sustain us through the desert times of our lives. May your name ever be praised. Amen.

CS Lewis, from The Weight of Glory: 
If you asked twenty good men today what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness. But if you had asked almost any of the great Christians of old, he would have replied, Love. You see what has happened? A negative term has been substituted for a positive, and this is of more than philological importance. The negative idea of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point. 

I do not think this is the Christian virtue of Love. The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self- denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire. If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. 

Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

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