Typically with the start of a New Year, there is much discussion about fasting. When to fast, should we fast, why are we fasting, how should we fast, what should we fast and how long should we fast? People fast for a variety of reasons. Doctors encourage a weekly 24 hour fast to reset the body, Pastors encourage occasional fasting to reset the spiritual body, health enthusiasts encourage fasting to break plateaus and conquer mind over matter. Whatever the motivation, at it’s core, fasting is a good thing. Finding the good thing in the midst of the fast has traditionally been a challenge for me.
I have failed many a vain attempt at fasting. I would set lofty goals and manage to “cheat” somewhere around the mid point of day three. After cheating, I would feel so condemned for not having the willpower to tough it out that I would quit all together. I wanted with everything in to me to succeed. I was not used to failing at anything I set my mind to. I could not understand why this one act of obedience was so hard. That’s why I gave God the “Whatchoo talking about Willis?” face when He asked me to do a 40 day fast two years ago.
At that point in my walk with Him, I had only completed one 21 day fast, with our church, a few years before. It wasn’t perfect, but I was motivated because I was on staff and had to set the example. I could not ask others to do what I was not willing to do myself. It was a modified Daniel fast. It was bearable and even our children participated in their own way. But this?! How on earth could I possibly do this? The truth was that I could not. It wasn’t about me. When I realized that, I won’t say the fast was easy, but it was manageable.
Earlier that year, through a miraculous series of events, God reconnected me with a young woman that I had not seen in 15 years. I had been deeply connected to her family while I attended college and she became my constant companion. She was my side-kick, my shadow and at five years old, my mini me. People would often mistake her for my daughter when were out and about. Like most people do, I left the college town and the family moved soon after. We communicated through our yearly Christmas cards and one or two visits early in my marriage. After that, life set in and our relationship was a pleasant memory. When God rearranged my life to be where He needed me to be and to be ready for the moment He would reconnect us, I never expected to hear the story she told.
I sat in the back corner booth of a popular coffee shop and listened as she shared a story that, she herself admitted, she wasn’t sure why she was telling me. It was a story of pain, betrayal, and heartache that would rival the big screen blockbusters. I tried not to let my shock escape onto my face as I sat and listened. With each detail my heart broke on levels I did not know were possible. From that day forward, God set us on a path that would forever change the internal structure of who we are. He bound us together in a way I can not explain.
In late September of that year she called to tell me a date had been set for the trial that would mark the end of this horrible ordeal. The moment she gave me the date is the moment the call to fast hit my spirit. I can not explain the resolve that settled into my spirit, but I knew it was from God and I knew I could not fail. I was compelled to do it. I knew her life, physically and spiritually, depended on my surrender. Not that I am anything special. But I know there are times when God chooses to partner with us to be His conduit into the earth. Her victory was somehow tied to my obedience.
Knowledge was key to my ability to maintain the fast. I began to read everything I could get my hands on from people whom God had given the gift of fasting. What I learned was amazing. Number one is that I learned why my vain attempts had failed in the past. They failed because I made them about me. This one was about Him and His calling me to it. I feel the same compelling now. I am starting my new year with a fast. Over the next 21 days I invite you to join me on a life changing journey. See you tomorrow!