I guess it makes sense that it did.
I've been buried in homework for weeks,
Barely getting enough sleep to stay awake in class.
I've made time for God,
I always do,
But that doesn't mean that the first thing that crossed my mind a week ago was, "Oh, today's Ash Wednesday."
In fact, I didn't even realize it until I saw people from a local Episcopal church giving out "Ashes to Go".
I'd been planning to do something,
Give up something,
Fast from something,
But I hadn't even had time yet to think of anything.
I wasn't sure what to do.
All the things I really wanted to give up I couldn't,
Not because I didn't want to,
Not because I wasn't willing to,
Just because of various circumstances in my life right now.
I finally settled on giving up drinks from the cafe,
Food from vending machines,
And late-night snacks.
Not a huge sacrifice.
Maybe next year I'll be able to give up something better . . .
Like TV . . .
(If only I could avoid it when I go home!)
Too bad I can't give up using the computer . . .
(If only I didn't have to do homework and check emails all the time!)
I was using the computer last Thursday.
I'd had this song stuck in my head since we sang it in church last Sunday,
So I got on YouTube and played it,
"You're rich in love, and You're slow to anger
Your name is great, and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find."
My much-younger brother was listening.
"No one can know ten thousand reasons," he said.
That got me thinking.
I bet there are ten thousand reasons.
I bet there are ten thousand times ten thousand reasons.
I don't know if it's possible for me to know them all,
But if it is, I want to.
I want to find ten thousand reasons,
Ten thousand reasons to bless the Lord,
Ten thousand reasons to just worship God.
I wanted to go deeper than that, though.
I've been learning a lot lately about how God-centric the Gospel is,
How He does everything for His glory.
As of last night, I've counted 7239 gifts,
7239 reasons to worship God,
And that is a good,
And God-honoring thing,
This time I want to count reasons to worship God for who He is,
For the amazing things that He has done that I am completely incapable of,
For His love and His justice,
For parted waters and a sun that stood still in the sky.
I don't want to stop giving thanks for the beautiful, everyday miracles,
For the endless, abundant graces,
But I do want to dig even deeper,
To count something different,
To know Him even better.
I also wanted these to be true and accurate,
Not just ideas I'd pulled out of the air,
Ideas I'd been fed by the American church and its religion,
With its me-centeredness and Christianized version of the American Dream.
(Yeah, those aren't the best links. Sorry. I've spent too long working on this already. I might come back and change them later.)
I wanted to go straight to the source,
So I decided to find one Scripture reference -
Just one, even though for many of these things I could probably find at least twenty -
So I would know that these reasons weren't made up by me,
But that they are true,
And I wanted to know where to find them,
How I could go back and see them again and again and again.
Once I know God better,
Have a more complete view of who He is,
I don't want to forget.
So, in short, here's my Lenten goal,
Not really a fast, but a refocusing:
- To count a minimum of 10 reasons - 10 God-centric reasons - each and every day during this season to worship God, including (but not necessarily limited to) aspects of His character and displays of His power.
- To find one Scripture reference for each reason so that I know I'm not just making this up, making sure that the Scripture supports the reason when taken in context.
- To let this exercise bring me closer to God, that I might know Him better and know Him for who He is, that I might worship the God of the Bible, not some idol I've formed in my mind through the things I've heard and my own misconceptions.
Not really that difficult,
No more difficult than counting one thousand gifts,
Just a little more time-consuming.
Paired with 400 Scriptures
By the end of Lent.
I knew it'd be good for me.
I didn't know how much it'd change me.
Only six days in, I went,
Worshiped with a few friends,
And I sang along,
I didn't speak up,
But I wanted to,
For every song we sang was about me.
"I will worship You because You have saved me.
You died for me.
You love me.
Me, me, me, me, me."
And it's all true,
And it's all good,
As a songwriter,
I very much know the power and worth of a song about me,
How the me can draw me closer to Him,
But that wasn't what I wanted,
Wasn't what I needed.
I was sick of singing about me.
Yes, You died for me, but You did it for Your glory.
Yes, You love me, but that's part of Your character.
I have done nothing to deserve this.
Can we just sing about that?
Better yet, can we stop singing about me period?
Can we just sing "Holy!"?
I just want to sing "Holy! Holy! Holy!"
In the midst of this mess,
In the midst of everything going on right now,
The last thing I want is to sing about me.
I just want to sing about You,
To know You reign,
To let that truth become real to my heart.
We finally ended with something slightly less about me,
Sang about His beauty,
And I cried.
Just a little,
But I did,
Heart crying out to know Him,
And knowing Him causing me to just want to praise Him,
Not for all He's done for me,
(Which, of course I'll never stop praising Him for,)
But simply because He is,
Because He is God.
It reminded me of Aaron Gillespie's testimony,
How he said the people in Africa just worshiped God because He is,
How God spoke to him,
How he felt God's spirit in that place,
How he sobbed to experience them worshiping,
People worshiping for just one reason:
Just because He exists.
I've said for awhile that I wanted that.
Now I'm getting there,
One baby step at a time.
So here it is,
My first 75 reasons,
(I haven't done today's yet)
75 bits of God's character,
75 things He does because of who He is,
75 reasons I should worship Him
(If you want to view the references in multiple versions at once, this site is an incredible resource. Also, it's helpful to look up even words you think you know the meanings to in a dictionary. Often there's something there you'd never have thought of on your own. It might give an even better picture of who God is.)
- He is (Exodus 3:6)
- He is who He is – and that never changes! (Exodus 3:14)
- He is Transcendent (Acts 17:24)
- He is Independent (Acts 17:25)
- He is in control (Acts 17:26)
- He gives all things life, motion, and being (Acts 17:18)
- He is Unchangeable (Psalm 102:25-27)
- He lives outside of time (1 Peter 3:8)
- He is Everlasting (Psalm 90:2)
- He is Almighty (Revelation 1:8)
- He is Creator (Genesis 1:1)
- He is Omnipresent (Jeremiah 23:24)
- He is Spirit (John 4:24)
- He is Eternal (1 Timothy 1:17)
- He is Immortal (1 Timothy 1:17)
- He is Invisible – beyond my powers of perception! (1 Timothy 1:17)
- He is the only God (2 Kings 19:19)
- He is Omniscient (1 John 3:20)
- He ordains all things (Psalm 139:16)
- His thoughts are precious (Psalm 139:17)
- He is Wise (Job 12:13)
- He cannot lie (Titus 1:2)
- He is Faithful (Deuteronomy 7:9)
- He keeps his covenant to a thousand generations (Deuteronomy 7:9)
- He is Good (Luke 18:19)
- His love endures forever (Psalm 100:5)
- His faithfulness never ends! (Psalm 100:5)
- He is Loving (Romans 5:8)
- He is Merciful (2 Samuel 24:14)
- He is Gracious (1 Peter 5:10)
- He is Patient (1 Timothy 1:16)
- He is Holy (Isaiah 6:3)
- He is Wrathful (John 3:36)
- He is Peaceful (1 Corinthians 14:33)
- He is Great (Deuteronomy 32:3)
- He is Perfect (Matthew 5:48)
- He is Just (Deuteronomy 32:4)
- He is Righteous (Isaiah 45:19)
- He is Jealous (Exodus 34:14)
- He is Beautiful (Psalm 27:4)
- He is Glorious [full of glory] (Psalm 24:8-10)
- He speaks and things happen (Genesis 1:3)
- He makes everything good (Genesis 1:31)
- He rests (Genesis 2:2)
- He brings all His good works to completion (Philippians 1:6)
- He forms people from dust (Genesis 2:7)
- His breath is the breath of life (Genesis 2:7)
- His laws are good (Nehemiah 9:13)
- He knows what is good and what is not good (Genesis 2:18)
- Nothing can be hidden from Him (Genesis 4:9-10)
- He is capable of regret (Genesis 4:7)
- He causes it to rain (Genesis 7:4)
- He opens the springs of the deep and the floodgates of heaven (Genesis 7:11)
- He will never forget His children (Isaiah 49:14-16)
- He will not abandon those who seek Him (Deuteronomy 4:29-31)
- He will not destroy those who seek Him (Deuteronomy 4:29-31)
- He creates the wind, tells it where and when to blow (Genesis 8:1)
- He causes the days and the seasons to follow their patterns (Genesis 8:22)
- He is the Giver (Genesis 9:3)
- He never forgets His covenants (Genesis 9:15-16)
- He confuses languages (Genesis 11:7)
- He scatters peoples (Genesis 11:9)
- He blesses (Genesis 12:2-3)
- He is Sovereign (2 Samuel 7:22)
- He is a Shield (Genesis 15:1)
- He is the very great reward (Genesis 15:1)
- He sees (Genesis 16:13-14)
- Nothing is too hard for Him (Genesis 18:14)
- He destroys the wicked (Genesis 19:24)
- He does what He has promised to do (Genesis 21:1)
- He hears every cry (Genesis 21:17)
- He is Eternal (Genesis 21:33)
- He tests (Genesis 22:1)
- He provides (Genesis 22:13-14)
- He is with us (Genesis 26:24)
Many thanks to Matt Redman for the song "10,000 Reasons", the inspiration behind this project. Thanks also to all others whose work is referenced in this post. You have inspired me to draw closer to God.
Linking up today at A Holy Experience. I know it's not exactly a fast, but it is a practice of walking with Him, knowing who He is, drawing closer to Him.
Also, please check out some of these other beautiful posts (links can be found at the bottom). You might read more about Lenten fasts there. : )