IMG_1288 It’s snowing again! Three words we don’t hear very often in the south. The dog and cat are snoring softly in the background.

I’m snuggly and warm in the birthday present from my best friend. Cocooned in the silence of the snowfall.

It’s the silence that causes one to be contemplative. And I am.

Lent began last week. It came up on me so fast I wasn’t prepared. Hadn’t given a thought as to what I might sacrifice or give up. Maybe it was all the snow and talk of ice and more snow to come. Or, maybe, I already had an inkling of what God was slowly moving me towards. Of what He would ask of me during this season.

He’s already been laying a trail for me. Trust in the hard, Tammy. Have faith in the unanswered. Hang on to Me in the silence. Find Me in the circumstances. Relinquish control.

I discuss it with my sweet man, who every year says to me, “But we’re Baptists, Baptists do not practice lent.”

I read him a quote from Ann Voskamp’s blog…“Okay…Lent. It’s the preparing the heart for Easter. Like going with Jesus into the wilderness for forty days, that we might become more like Christ in His sacrifice.” http://www.aholyexperience.com/2015/02/why-failing-at-lent-may-be-succeeding-at-lent/

I’ve had six days now to turn this over and over in my heart. Six days to pray. Six days of that sweet man asking if I’ve decided.

Part way into the six days my heart began to churn. Words tossing around in my mind. Labels. Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian. The list goes on and on. I’m a bit uncomfortable. Like I’m wearing a pair of too tight shoes.

It comes to me then. I want to peel off the labels. Not just the labels stamped on me, but the labels I stamp on others as well. I want to step out of my “comfortable Christianity”. I want  more of Him, less of me, less of the labels.

“He must become greater; I must become less.” John 3:30 NIV

It’s not going to be a simple giving up. Something like brownies or Klondike bars. No…

I expect it will be hard. Nothing worth keeping is ever easy. Bad habits to drop. New ones to take up.

But. The. Only label I want is this….

To be known by my love for God.

The cross. Lover of Jesus. Lover of all mankind. Lover of the unlovely, the hard, and the ugly.

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 So for lent this year I won’t be giving up brownies, Klondike bars, technology or Facebook. Yeah, that would be uncomfortable.

Instead I’m taking up something. The Cross. And by taking up the Cross, I’m giving up my comfortable Christianity. Peeling off the labels. Asking for a heart that’s willing to follow Jesus into the wilderness.

I want freedom from the labels. I want to grace others by not labelling them. To grace as I have been Graced.

To love as I have been loved.

To be willing to follow Him into the wilderness, even if it means my own life.

To be strong, un~moveable, unshakable, relentless in my faith even in the face of persecution.

It’s a tall order. Will be a hard season of Lent for sure. I will fail somewhere along the way. I will judge. I will run back to my comfortable Christianity. I will cower in the persecution.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God.

Renew a loyal spirit within me.

Do not banish me from your presence, 

and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation, 

and make me willing to obey you.

Then I will teach your ways to rebels,

and they will return to you.”

Psalm 51: 10-13 NLT

Then I will remember. Remember The One who carried the cross for me. And I will try again and again and again.

Graced by God

Tammy Mashburn