I've come to write several times this week. In fact, I have 2 or 3 blogs in draft all ready to go. But it just doesn't feel like time for all of that just yet. The past 8 days have been more about listening, for me. About making space.
Our church family has joined up with churches across the globe to participate in Awakening - 21 days of corporate prayer and fasting. For my part, this has been the first time that Kurt and I have really fasted in the traditional sense of the word. We've chosen to participate in a modified "Daniel Fast" eating only fruits and veggies along with bean and nut proteins. I've recently added in some whole grain to make sure I'm getting enough calories to keep up with my speedy little metabolism. We're on day 8, today, and it has been a real adventurous time of seeking God on a whole new level.
We've chosen a couple of main issues to press in to prayer about, and already I can see the hand of God working in my heart and attitude in those areas. I'm excited to look back when this is all over and share what God has done! Some really cool "coincidental" things have already shifted, and it's only day 8!
Of course, for me, the two biggest hurtles in fasting have been 1. Not letting it be about the food and 2. Not getting legalistic about everything. At first, I didn't think it would be much different for me. I generally eat pretty healthy meals (minus the fast food and Starbucks). But something shifts on a spiritual level when we fast, and I am still learning about as we go. I struggle to understand it with my rational mind. How does foregoing certain foods bring you closer to God? Is it like some spiritual mountain climb, that if I eat the wrong thing I slip back a few yards and have to climb that part again? What happens when I get to the top?
I used to think that fasting was about feeling hungry. And when I felt hungry, I was supposed to make that into a hunger for God. Like, literally. But I don't very often get hungry. If I get busy and skip a meal or something, my body cues are shakiness and fogginess, not hunger pains in my belly. So does that mean that fasting won't work for me?
Stovall Weems wrote a book called Awakening: A New Approach to Faith, Fasting, and Spiritual Freedom, as a companion to this Awakening event. He wrote, "Fasting is not about figuring it all out. It's about making a space for God to fill with Himself." Somehow, that made sense to me.
By giving up something in the name of discipleship, I am creating a space in my life and inviting God to come and fill it. This was the most relieving part for me: It's not my responsibility to make God fill that space. It's His responsibility to respond to my obedience and faith. God craves an intimate relationship with us more than I could ever fully express. Just read Song of Solomon or parts of Hosea. Oh, He longs to be near to us. But we surround ourselves with so much "stuff"! TV and computers and schedules and social obligations and food and clothes and shopping and, and, and...
We were created with a soulish "hunger", and because of the fall, those "appetites" got redirected. So we walk around with this "need"all of the time, and our souls get really creative about how to meet that need. By taking away one of the things our soul most naturally reaches for, we find ourselves grasping and searching like a child looking for her blankie. This is the space. This is the space that we leave open for God to fill with Himself. Fasting awakens our souls to the true need in our life - and that is intimacy with God. And this is, by far, the best part. My soul cries out like a child in the night, and Abba rushes in to comfort me. It can be a foreign sensation as our souls adjust, because maybe God wasn't exactly what it was looking for. But soon, it recognizes that He was more than what it was looking for, and it nestles in.
It's only been 8 days, and as I've denied my soul, it's gotten pretty darn cranky at times. But I am more sensitive to the presence of the Lord, and I'm listening, because I know He's got some pretty important things to tell me while He holds me in His arms.
There is more to share, and I'm looking forward to putting it all down in words when the time is right. :)