We cancelled our cable almost 2 years ago for financial reasons and realized shortly after how good it was to not be plugged into TV, DVR, and the constant consumerism flashing at us in 2 minute or less chunks. We almost never watch live TV, and have recently started taking family walks every night before plugging into something from Netflix. My husband's job is physically and mentally taxing, so sometimes he needs to just sit and stare at what I affectionately call "flashy things." My thorn in the flesh causes good days and bad days: I have super productive days when my house is super clean by the end, and days when the most productive thing I do is power through half a season of a TV show (thank you, Netfilx Instant!) Neither of us have smart phones, and the only reason we have unlimited texting is because our teenagers only communicate with 160 characters or less. Yep, I was smug coming into this chapter. Jen Hatmaker (and the Holy Spirit) can't touch me, I've got every excuse covered, I can power through without even blinking.
But as I read this book aloud in the car while my sweetie was driving us home from his grandfather's funeral I got a lot more than I expected from this chapter. Yes we read aloud to each other. We get that we're weird, there's no need to point it out. We are more than occasionally old fashioned 30 year old's and we're ok with that.
It was all fun and games, laughing it up at that crazy Hatmaker family until I got to Day 15. Jen starts talking to her former self in an encouraging torrent of "this is who you are, but this is is who you are becoming" and "don't lose heart" and "focus on the Kingdom." Oh my heart needed that. But most of all my heart needed to hear this:
Self-hatred is not appropriate when God reveals a new angle. That is not the way of Christ, who abolished condemnation under the banner of grace. The wise responder humbly receives truth, allows it to supersede the version he or she is holding, and adjusts. This progression is not cause for shame but gratitude; thankful God never leaves us where we are but draws us into a richer faith. ...I don't even know what I don't know. - p. 109I had a very rebellious few years after I graduated from high school and before I met my husband. By a few I mean almost a decade of doing everything possible to run as far away from all that I knew to be true. I put myself in so many dangerous and foolish situations that I laid in bed last night crying, thanking God that he preserved my life. He very much brought me up from the pit and redeemed my life from destruction. I often look back at those years with shame and heartache and the things I lost, the mistakes I made, the riches I squandered chasing after everything that is temporary and vain. I read Ecclesiastes and feel sometimes like maybe I could have written it, I grasped at the wind!
God promised me, his child, that there is only grace in Christ. It is no longer me who lives my life, but Christ in me. The only thing sweeter than that is death. I am not my own, I was bought with the price of Jesus' blood. Propitiation has been made for all of my wanderings and failings. All of those old things have passed away, my LIFE has been made new.
Thank you Lord for using my sister Jen to remind me of the truth of the gospel in my life.
So I keep reading, and Day 26 is another needed kick in the head.
Back story: When my husband and I have morning worship together we have a time when we ask each other "How's your heart?" We often forget to ask this question of each other, so we for now are forcing it for the sake of it becoming habit in our relationship, and for it to become natural worship to God to care for each other. It helps us love each other better, and pray for each other better, and sometimes it's just good to know that another human being knows where our heart is at day to day. The particular day we read 7 together we had a long "How's your heart?" time because we were in the car for 7 hours with nothing to do but talk to each other or listen to the radio. Our hearts are in about the same place for once. There is a lot of tension in our lives, many things floating in the air without answers and we are trying to figure out which thing is what God wants for us. My poor husband has the hard job of leading our family right now in following Christ when there is just enough light for half a step in the direction we're supposed to go. It's just plain hard and exhausting right now.
Enter Day 26. I could quote the ENTIRE day because I cried while reading it to my husband. But I won't. I'll just quote the part that brought hopeful tears:
the story of God's people comprises a billion little moments when an average believer pressed on, carried through, stepped up. In the quantity of ordinary obedience, the kingdom truly advances.I was ready to feel so self-justified as I read this chapter. Instead I was reminded over and over that I am only Christ-justified.