Many of our church family just finished a 21-day Daniel Fast. During my (almost) 5 years as Pastor of The Brook, this is the first corporate fast we have done. As I now stand on this side of that time, I want to share some things I learned, confess where the Spirit began convicting me, and hopefully encourage you and hear from you how these times of fasting and prayer have changed and transformed you in your walk and journey with the Lord.
Let me start by stating this plainly:
I have been a wimp.
You could use the word "wuss" or "pansy" if you'd like. For a few years now I've been aware that I am hypoglycemic. I have minor blood sugar issues. Compared to those who struggle with diabetes, I have no sad story to bring to the table. Nevertheless, it can mess with you. And while that's true, I've allowed this very small deficiency to become a crutch - an excuse - to heavily lean on food. And by "lean on", what I should probably say is "bow down to". Often, I hear things like "Don't let Brian get hungry. He's a bear!" In fact, a friend recently (with complete justification) pointed me to the newly coined phrase "Hangry", the condition of someone whose hunger leads to what we'll term "irritability". The equation: hungry + angry = hangry. And let me be clear: I've had a serious hanger problem.
This has to end.
This has to be put to death.
This is not some physical condition that I'm plagued with; it's a sinful decision to allow my life to be ruled by food instead of led by the Spirit. And while that causes me frustration, it also gives me hope. This is something that can be surrendered. This is something that can be overcome. The Spirit gives me self-control. The question becomes, "Will I take hold of it?"
Over the last 3 weeks my dependence on the Lord has grown. My faith and trust in the power of the Spirit in my life has increased exponentially. I can't tell you how many times Jesus' words flooded my mind: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." I've never felt these words more affirmed in my soul before now. "Man will not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God." If we think food will satisfy us more than the Word of God, we are sadly mistaken. Ironically, that pizza - that chocolate - that hamburger - will leave you empty. We have to determine how much of our life we want to be temporarily filled and to what degree we long to be truly satisfied. The difference - the chasm between them - is vast. What we've mistaken to be a physical battle is actually one of epic spiritual proportion.
So as I look in the rearview at this much-needed time of sacrifice in my life and in our church, I am grateful. I am renewed. I am more and more aware of my hunger and thirst for communion with the Lord. I know that only He can truly satisfy me. I am no longer ignorant to the fact that I can make much healthier choices in what I allow to go into my body. I have a much greater capacity to be disciplined and self-controlled than I thought imaginable, mainly because I've realized it's not about my capacity or strength or power; it's about God's.
This was my first Daniel Fast. While the Enemy would whisper to us deceitfully, "Big deal", the Lord reminded me this morning in Zechariah 4:10: "Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin."
I will be my quicker to embrace any small beginning if it comes from the Lord.
I will be much quicker to fast; to take the opportunity of a day or week (or longer) to allow the Lord to refine me again - to purify my heart to the point that it beats for nothing more than it beats for Him.
What small beginnings has the Lord begun to unfold in your life?
I'd love to hear about it.