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I was reading the other day in Mark about John the Baptist and his peculiar and ascetic lifestyle. He lived in the wilderness, clothed himself in camel hair, and ate locusts and wild honey. He clearly knew that he had been set apart by God for a purpose. God’s great calling on his life was to be the “voice in the wilderness,” preparing the hearts of the people for the long-awaited Messiah by teaching a message of repentance.

In my young adult Bible study, I met Johanna, a recent Shepherd university graduate, courageously leaving the Western World in August to work as a full-time missionary. When I first met her, I asked her about her wardrobe. She always wore the same brown pants and shirt. I thought she was really into earthy tones or liked the minimalist aesthetic. 

Instead, I was met with a reason much deeper and more impactful. She told me about her first mission trip to Zambia two summers ago. She saw that most people there had only the clothes on their back while she had three closets full of clothes at home and was still discontent.

She confessed to me that a lot of her identity came from what she wore. She just loved fashion! She was known for having the most put together outfits, and she felt validated by the frequent compliments she received. Johnna told me she had grown up with hand-me-downs, so when she officially got her first paycheck and spent it on clothes, she felt ownership with it. In fact, every Sunday after church her weekly ritual was to buy another dress to add to her wardrobe. However, she only found her desires more insatiable.

For a whole year God weighed in on her heart about it. What was He calling her to give up? She went back and forth on what this would look like. It ended up looking like giving up her three closets of clothes and buying several pairings of the same brown shirt and pants, one for every day of the week. One year ago, she obediently followed through.

“I had garbage bags full of clothes I rolled out of my room to donate. My dad thought I was crazy, my sister thought it was weird, and once I started wearing my standard brown outfit every day, some of my friends thought I had joined a cult!” She laughed. “I’m not saying everyone should do as I do, but I had a strong conviction.”

Johnna said it was easy at first but then admitted it got difficult.

“But I see how much God used it. My identity became more in Him. I saved time getting ready in the morning…and a lot of money! I am learning to live a life of simplicity,” she concluded to me.

When she had finished the story, I shuddered a little and my first thought was, I really hope God doesn’t call me to do the same as her!

But then more thoughts followed. If God called me to give up my wardrobe like that, would I be obedient? Was I even listening to Him in the first place in order to be obedient? The questions continued to float around my head as I drove home.

Soon after, I was talking to another friend in my Bible study, Josiah, who is a computer science major at Shepherd University. During Lent, he felt God put on his heart to give up speeding. When he told me, I laughed! It wasn’t the spiritual answer I had expected. I found it a little random.

“It was definitely a big step in my journey of life change and in my faith,” he said.

My curiosity piqued. How did driving your car the speed limit have anything to do with that? I asked Josiah what he meant.

He responded, “I was searching for practices to help slow down my life, to eliminate the hurry, and that looked like going 15 mph in a 15-mph zone and not 20 or 25 mph. It taught me discipline and self-control that poured into other areas of my life. It was worth it.”

Over those 40 days of Lent, he saw how this change slowed his heart and mind down as well. He found himself praying more when he was driving. His mind was clearer and more open to what God wanted to say.

I think of John the Baptist and my two college-aged friends, Johanna and Josiah. Wearing camel hair, eating locusts and honey, wearing only brown, driving the speed limit? It honestly didn’t look traditionally “spiritual” or “religious” in nature at all.

But I am reminded that the Holy Spirit’s conviction in our lives often calls us to be set apart and sacrificial, even if we don’t understand the reason at first.

"Your heart should be holy and set apart for the Lord God. Always be ready to tell everyone who asks you why you believe as you do. Be gentle as you speak and show respect." 1 Peter 3:15-17

Am I being Spirit led? Are my ears ready to respond eagerly when the Holy Spirit speaks? When He calls me to surrender something to Him? To live a life set apart?

Lauren Weber

Lauren Weber is a recent college graduate and one of our youngest writers for The Connection. She is currently working as a registered nurse but has always had a love for writing. She loves using her gift of writing to serve God as she writes words of truth and encouragement. 

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