Monday, October 1, 2012

The 7 Challenge

When I happened upon the book "7: an experimental mutiny against excess" by Jen Hatmaker, I bought it.  Immediately.

I started reading it as soon as UPS delivered it to my doorstep.  Caught up in the moment, I talked Paul's ear off when he came home from work.  I must have done a horrible job paraphrasing the book to him because he clearly wasn't sharing my enthusiasm.  I think I threw him for a loop when I mentioned eating the same 7 foods for one month and wearing the same 7 clothes for one month, and so on.

< Insert blank stare. >

A few hours later, we were on the road to the coast for our Anniversary weekend.  Paul was driving, which meant I had a captive audience.  (Sneaky, I know."  I read a few pages out loud to wet his appetite, and then stopped abruptly to gauge his response.

Paul: "Are you going to keep reading?"
Me: "Do you want me to?"
Paul: "Yeah.  I think I like it."

Three chapters later, we mutually agreed to try the principles in the book and seek God through simplified living.

The overview:

American life can be excessive, to say the least. That’s what Jen Hatmaker had to admit after taking in hurricane victims who commented on the extravagance of her family’s upper middle class home. She once considered herself unmotivated by the lure of prosperity, but upon being called “rich” by an undeniably poor child, evidence to the contrary mounted, and a social experiment turned spiritual was born. 
7 is the true story of how Jen (along with her husband and her children to varying degrees) took seven months, identified seven areas of excess, and made seven simple choices to fight back against the modern-day diseases of greed, materialism, and overindulgence. 
Food. Clothes. Spending. Media. Possessions. Waste. Stress. 
They would spend thirty days on each topic, boiling it down to the number seven. Only eat seven foods, wear seven articles of clothing, and spend money in seven places. Eliminate use of seven media types, give away seven things each day for one month, adopt seven green habits, and observe “seven sacred pauses.” So, what’s the payoff from living a deeply reduced life? It’s the discovery of a greatly increased God—a call toward Christ-like simplicity and generosity that transcends social experiment to become a radically better existence

In my experience, fasting is uncomfortable, difficult and inconvenient.  According to Bill Bright, fasting means "exchanging the needs of the physical body for those of the spirit."  And Jen Hatmaker, author of 7, says fasting is "an intentional reduction, a deliberate abstinence to summon God's movement in my life.  A fast creates margin for God to move."

I want that.  All of it.

And so, I'm embracing the next 7 months with conviction, excitement, and anxiety.  I'm SO ready to be spiritually challenged and to hear from the Lord in new ways.

Month 1: Food. Choose 7 "real" foods to eat every day for one month.
Month 2: Clothes. Wear the same 7 articles of clothing for one month.
Month 3: Possessions. Give away 7 possessions each day, every day for a month.
Month 4: Media.  Eliminate 7 types of media for one month.
Month 5: Waste. Adopt 7 green habits.
Month 6: Spending.  Limit spending to 7 places for the month.
Month 7: Stress.  Observe 7 sacred pauses each day for the month.

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