Church-wide Fast: Week 5
Sorry I’m late on this blog. Since it is late, I’m going to jump right in. Here are a few journal entries I received from last week’s fast:
- I am beginning to wonder if God is trying to show me how I give away my devotion to things and people outside of Him. Each week I am giving in during my fast sooner and sooner! I struggle most with transformation where the rubber meets the road. When God says “Step out of the boat,” no matter how much I trust Him, or how much I want to serve Him, sometimes I just can’t make that big step to live out what He is asking. There are many decisions in my life, which though I felt like I was following God’s will in making initially, I am starting to question. I have to stop and ask myself, am I uncertain because God is calling me to make new decisions, or am I uncertain because my devotion to Him has waned since I first became a “transformed” person?
- How was today’s fast different than last week’s? What do you feel like God was teaching you this week during your fast? Pain, the pain that comes with being hungry. I really started to feel a lot of compassion for those that go without food for days on end. I just can’t imagine how they function. I think it causes bitterness, miss perceptions, perhaps hate for those who do have the luxury of eating whatever and whenever. I started to put myself in their position. It is not a good feeling.
- Monday, 7a.m. Last week’s fast (Wk 4) was difficult and frustrating and left me feeling less-than excited about the outcome (and then I got sick/injured the next day and never submitted a journal). All of this set me up for Negative Anticipation (Dread) this week, so I knew I had to handle it differently. I think that last week I simply got complacent. Though I went into this fasting experience with a lot of trepidation – it being my first full-throttle attempt – I soon discovered that not only did I survive it but the first week was actually an uplifting, fulfilling experience. So that by the time I started last week, I did what we tend to do when we feel we can handle things – leave God out of the picture (i.e. okay, God, I’ve got this one, I’ll let ya know when I next need you). I didn’t devote nearly the time in prayer that I did with the previous weeks, nor did I prepare ahead of time. In fact, I was rushed last Monday and so decided to do my devotional time at lunch, my back-up quiet time. However, as life tends to do, it got in the way, and I found myself so busy through lunch that not only did I easily sail through it without pausing long enough to consider food, but I sailed right through taking the time to reflect, pray and catch up with my devotional. Needless to say, it hit me like a brick wall at 3pm. By 7pm I was just flopped on the couch literally waiting for it all to end. Even though I had prepared somewhat (reading Brady’s encouraging scriptures, and even writing ANTICIPATION across my office white board) – my relaxed, nonchalant bravado really brought home just how easy it is to switch the focus off of God and have it all come crashing down around me. Yesterday in LifeGroup, we discussed being both dumbfounded by and comforted by the Israelites’ repeated screw-ups and lack of faith. It struck me that that’s just what I did with last week’s fast.//2pm Fast forward to mid-day today: I made sure to begin my praying BEFORE fasting – to set my vision correctly, began my day with a double dose of devotion and prayer, and am making very concerted efforts to pause and pray purposefully. I honestly can’t say that today is any easier. In fact, I feel hungrier today than any past fasts. And my stomach was growling SO loudly that (others could hear it)! But my attitude (at least for now) is much better centered – as I’m remembering the point of the misery – drawing closer to God, thanking Him for the opportunity to be reminded of my need for Him to be Ever Present in my day.//7pm – This wk was definitely better than last. Throughout the day, when hunger struck, I not only focused on transformation, but I also took the time to pray for a different family member each time I paused. And I actually felt a little sad that I ran out of prayer pauses before I ran out of people I had lined up on my list. What a great feeling. To have ended a day so full of prayerful moments and feel as though I didn’t get enough!
- Last Wed morning as I was doing my journal entry I was in a hurry to complete it and get in on time. Thinking back, how wrong I was. It started me thinking how I so often do things because it is expected of me not for the right reasons. Over the years I have walked with God that way. The last few weeks I have done a lot of reflection and not just on Mondays. I have seen where I am lacking and where I improve in my Christian walk. It sure hit home when I was running errands and thought I could grab a candy bar and no one would ever know. How many times have I committed a sin, but thought it would be okay because no one else would know but me. Gosh how wrong that thinking is.
- I was truly praying, throughout the fast, Lord I seek you, please allow your teaching sink to the core of who I am so that I know, understand, and am filled with your wisdom. Throughout the day, He was reminding me of both sermons on Sunday, one at church and the one with the college. He was teaching me through His Word in Acts the importance of His Name and allowing me, through the dependence and reminder of Him through my hunger pangs, to take every action and word to Him to make sure they are of His name–not taking His powerful name in vain! But then I allowed my flesh and Satan to truly attack me after I had “gotten through” the fast. I was fine during dinner at 6, but then later that evening I became hungry again, so I ate quite a bit of sweets and felt sick afterwards. I was frustrated that I could “keep the fast” in a disciplined matter and learned so much about being thankful for food and what dependence on the Lord was shown through hunger pangs, and yet afterwards my flesh took over! I could not sleep and the Lord softly spoke to my heart that I needed to speak with Him. I poured out so many honest, confused thoughts about the world, sin, life situations, etc in my journal. I felt like David or Job, honestly asking questions and conversing with our Lord. When I finished three pages, I let out a sigh, and thanked the Lord for His peace that washed over me after talking with Him. His Holy Spirit truly gave me a peace that passes understanding, the grace that covers my failures, and the passion to cling to the power of Him to combat the devil’s schemes in my and other’s lives!!! He continues to make us whole. This lesson reached the core of my soul, and I wish sin was not in the picture, but He is utterly faithful!
- I struggle with transformation in my actions. Constantly after Sunday’s or a weekend retreat or anything I will get really convicted, I’ll know in my feelings that I should change, I’ll know in my head I have to change, but. Alas. I don’t. Week after week. And even with the fast I decided to do it to try to change my discipline, but I failed at that and ate an hour earlier than I was supposed to. There really isn’t any resolve or happy ending to this journal entry. Because I’m still deep in prayer asking God to continually reform my actions. I think I believe in our mission but my actions make me think I don’t fully believe in what I’m committed to do.
I am so glad that people are growing, struggling, and actually hearing from God through this experience. It has not always been fun or pretty, but I see some really important conversations and growth coming out of this spiritual exercise. Tomorrow is our last week of the fast. We will head into Holy Week in a spirit of remembering the sacrifice that was made on our behalf by making a small sacrifice of not eating. I also pray it is a moving week for all!t