Readings

7 by Jen Hatmaker

7

I’m ironically reading 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess (and typing this into my smartphone) while on a cruise ship. Half-eaten plates of salads and hamburgers are being dumped into the trashcan beside me. (Do you KNOW how LONG it took to grow that freaking lettuce leaf?!) Actually, yesterday I threw away a half-eaten plate of Spinach. Oh ye hypocrite.

7’s author, Jen Hatmaker, grew up listening to Petra, quotes Wendell Berry, intentionally goes without buying clothes, and is obsessed with Sprouts Market.  Thank you, Jen Hatmaker, for making me feel oh so much less like a crazy person. Petra means rock, and Sprouts has perfect chocolate-covered-honeycomb.

In 7, Jen embarks on a 7 month reduction, focusing on one area of life each month.  She approaches it with the spirit of fasting: an intentional reduction, a deliberate abstinence to summon God’s movement in my life.

Month 1: Eat only 7 items of FOOD (over and over and over again).

Month 2: Only wear 7 articles of CLOTHING (not including undergarments).

Month 3: No ELECTRONICS/MEDIA!

Month 4:  MONEY can only be spent at 7 key locations.

Month 5: Give away 7 POSSESSIONS each day of the month to a family in need.

Month 6: One month devoted to less WASTE and “going green” (gardening included!).

Month 7: De-STRESS by spending time in meditation, prayer, and reflection.

My 3 favorite things about 7:

1. Jen’s year-long experiment taught her about food, recycling, consumerism, gardening, sin, the church, discipline, accountability, over-indulgence, wasted time and energy, connecting with others, and being tied to place….. but it really just brought her heart back to the honest and simple basics: Love God most.  Love your neighbor as yourself. This is everything.  If we say we love God, then we will care about the poor.  This Earth is God’s and everything in it. We should live like we believe this.  What we treasure reveals what we love.  Money and stuff have the power to ruin us.  Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with God.  This is what is required.

2. Jen’s hope for the Church: There is much hope for the American church.  It’s too soon to declare the Bride hopelessly selfish or irrelevant.  Jen not only appeals to the millennials’ social justice bent but encourages the church as a whole to cling to what is real, what is sacrifice, and what is love unconditionally.  The consumerist mentality by which many of us approach the world is wrong, yet sometimes we come to church with the same attitude. To quote Jen: I don’t want to consume the redemption Jesus made possible then spurn the methods by which He achieved it.  Jesus’ kingdom continues in the same manner it was launched; through humility, subversion, love, sacrifice; through calling empty religion to reform and behaving like we believe the meek will indeed inherit the earth.  We cannot carry the gospel to the poor and lowly while emulating the practices of the rich and powerful.  We’ve been invited into a story that begins with humility and ends with glory; never the other way around.  Let’s align ourselves correctly, sharing in the humble ministry of Jesus, knowing one day we’ll feast at His table in splendor.

3. Jen’s explanation of fasting: Oh how we love our religious yokes, not for what they communicate about God, but what they say about us.  This is the kind of people we are.  We say ‘No’ when everyone else says ‘yes.’ We don’t do that. We don’t watch that.  We don’t vote that way.  We don’t go there.  We don’t include them.  But God’s idea of a fast is less about what we’re against and more about what we are for. “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injsutice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?  Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter–when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?’-Isiah 58:6-7  The Isaiah 58 fast is not about the mechanics of abstinence; it is a fast from self-obession, greed, apathy, elitism.  When it becomes more about me than the marginalized I’ve been charged to serve, I become the confused voice in the passage: ‘Why have I fasted and you have not seen it?’ I don’t want 7 to become a modern yoke because that’ll only result in useless self-obsession (and that form a girl who wrote an entire book about myself already). While fasting from futile things, I don’t want to fixate on them, missing the forest for the trees.  The compulsion to defend my clothes to a roomful of women reveals a heart that isn’t there yet.  In the yoke-on/yoke-off equation, I’m still on the wrong side. I hope one day clothes and appearance and everyone else’s assessment doesn’t even occur to me.  I would like to be so focused on the valuable that what I am wearing doesn’t even warrant mental space.  Not the fussy, concerned, indulgent obsession with clothes; not the conspicuous, public, distracting reduction where I am now…but the zero balance of priority is where I hope to land.

I’d recommend the read. Here’s the Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/An-Experimental-Mutiny-Against-Excess/dp/1433672960/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1368067808&sr=8-1&keywords=7+jen+hatmaker .

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