There I was, after living overseas for a couple months. While sitting in the chair getting my hair cut, the thought passed through my mind: “This is cool, I’ve never had my hair cut on vacation before.”
Then the following trail of thoughts flooded my thinking: “But people on vacation don’t get their hair cut. That means you are not on vacation. You are not a tourist anymore…you are a resident.”
Something inside of me shifted with that revelation, and it almost felt like a let-down.
I realized we hadn’t been carrying cameras around anymore (that was before cameras were on iPhones!). Further, we had even developed patterns of avoiding the tourist areas. Things didn’t feel fresh as they once had. Funny, because I simultaneously recognized that while my feelings were different, nothing about our environment had actually changed.
Looking back I see that moment shifted me into a deeper level of integration. I was no longer just an observer. I had become a participant - sharing in the life of this culture. l was changing without recognizing it. The reason nothing felt new anymore, was because I was learning, acclimating and growing into our new lifestyle.
When the initial startup thrill is over, the reality of the journey sets in.
There comes a time spiritually when we shift from being an observer to being a participant, and often there are emotional feelings that accompany this change. How you recognize and walk through this shift is key.
Everyone can do something a couple times. But there's always a time when the proverbial honeymoon is over. What happens when my feelings arise and I want to go back to the old? I’ve learned this time period is when maturity and growing really happens...if you stick to the plan. We have to remember why we started: our collective goal as a church family is to develop a spiritual lifestyle through resting, fasting, praying for 80 days.
1 Timothy 4:7: “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.”
Since godliness is our purpose, how do we pursue that purpose? According to this verse, you “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.”
In praying for the church this week, I felt that words of encouragement are needed. When you experience a sense that “this resting, fasting, praying stuff isn’t new and fresh anymore”, it can be a great indicator that you are growing! Keep it up...remember the goal.
You’ve passed the endorphine-filled startup honeymoon phase. That's a big deal! Now see yourself as entering a deeper level of maturity and cultural integration to things of the Spirit. Be more aware of the voice of the Father during this stage. This is a time to remember verses like 1 Peter 1:1-2
“…you are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father by the sanctifying work of the Spirit to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood. May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure!”
You are chosen! Life as a chosen one is intended to include goodness and peace to you in the fullest way! We are on a journey, as participants, no longer just observers. Remember that you are maturing to a deeper level! You are integrating into a lifestyle culture of His daily presence where He speaks to you and will increasingly work through you.
As you fast this week, remember it’s not a honeymoon thing:
Fasting is practice.
Fasting was part of God’s original design intent.
It’s a spiritual/soul workout
that trains you
to exert spiritual control over earthly things.
As you spend time with the Father, thank him that He chose you, He is calling you, and that He gives you strength and discipline to go deeper and be like Him!
Encouraging excerpts from Ephesians:
“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us…Be imitators of God as beloved children and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you…”