True Confessions from a Daniel Fast

“So what are you hearing from God?” images

An innocent question from my husband about the modified fast we’re currently doing with our church.  Not a question I really wanted to answer.  But to be completely honest, in my 43 years of being a Christian (yes, I started very young) this is the first fast of any kind I’ve ever done.  A week and a half in, and I had nothing.  Bubkes.  I hadn’t been sure of what to expect, but frankly I hadn’t been expecting much at all.  I’m not proud of either.

My husband was shocked.  You see, he’s only been a Christian for 30 years.  Only.  So he generally expects me to be way ahead of him on most things “church.”  In fact, he was fasting – the whole thing, not a modified Daniel Fast – when we met.  The truth is, I’ve never really gotten the whole fasting thing.

“Then why are you doing it?” he questioned.

This was an easy question to answer.  “Because we’re supposed to.”  To me it was a matter of obedience.  At least that’s what I’ve been telling myself.  In all honesty however, I’ve had a really bad attitude about it from the day I learned we were being called to fast.  I’ve been cranky and hungry and resentful.  Unless, of course, you call that a good attitude.  “I may be sitting down on the outside, but on the inside I’m standing up!”  Is it any wonder I hadn’t gained any new insight?  But by golly, I was being obedient.  and hungry.

In my all-too-short regular prayer time, I took the situation to the Lord.  Perhaps I was expecting some kind of “brownie points” because of the huge sacrifice of obedience I was making.  That’s not what I heard from God.  The uneasy sense of God saying, “Give me a major break,” hung in the air.  I decided to let it remain there and not deal with it.

As I sat down to read the handful of blogs I follow, words jumped off the page of Seth Godin’s blog, “If you come to my brainstorming meeting and say nothing, it would have been better if you hadn’t come at all.”  Hmmm…well, that couldn’t possibly be God speaking through a secular business/marketing blog.  I moved on to my next choice.

“Create a life that feels good on the inside, not one that just looks good on the outside.”  Thank. you. very. much.  Jon Acuff.  Surely this was coincidence, not confirmation.  In line with the theme of  “phoning it in,” I shelved this, too.

Since this was Saturday and I had a Monday post to write, I began to consider what I might put together.  Maybe something about pastors going through the motions.  This wasn’t a fully formed idea.  I contemplated it for awhile, even as a small voice whispered to me, “You’ve lost your joy.”  I pushed the voice to the background.

Sunday morning came too early, as only Sunday morning can do.  I prepped for church and worship team; the voice in my ear got a little louder as I sang.  I toyed with the idea and finally submitted my heart to think about it.

Joining my husband in the congregation, I settled in to listen to my pastor bring the Word in his gentle, yet confrontive manner.  He is a strong proponent of doing “the work.”  This should have been a nice confirmation of my obedience.  Instead, he turned to Revelation 2:2-4.  “I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false.  You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.  Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.”  The hot flush of shame crept up my neck and stained my face.  I could deny it no longer.  I had been called out – Laodicea.

Somewhere in the pursuit of my calling ( and the day job necessary to fund that), combined with the sheer volume of stressful life events in the last two years, I allowed the survival techniques meant for coping to become my life pattern.  This iniquity of people-pleasing in my life has become a life-sucking identity.  It manifests itself through sarcasm, disdain, and despising of others through criticism.  Harsh words served up with a laugh to soften the blow can be defended as a dry sarcastic wit.  Until someone who knows me well calls my hand.  But even I know how much I want to feel the joy of my first love.  To not build a wall against the hurt.  To risk again.

I may not get any other message than this during our fast.  I do know this one is spot-on.  I need to step back and reassess how that first love has crept away in the night.  I must find that way back into the tenderest of graces.  Yes, I have been and will at times still be “that Christian.”  One who has no business leading if perfection is the measure.  I have played false and taken out my frustrations on others.

I know, however, the Redeemer of all, the Restorer of all, the Joy-Bringer.  He is replete with mercy.  His benevolence to me knows no   end.  I have such a long way to go!  Not only has God been these things to me and more, I am thankful for my family that gives me permission to be who I really am.

What have I gotten from the fast this far?  A call to return, to come up higher, to be real, to recapture the joy of my first love.  I’m not fooling anybody but myself.  I refuse to settle for “this is as good as it gets” living.  I also need to grasp this wake up call to the danger that is lurking at the door, waiting at my door.  God has a work for me to do, but He never intended that I should it in a joyless state.  Therefore, he must have a plan for me to live life more abundantly.  I embrace that plan without seeing it clearly or knowing what I will face.  Obedience is commendable, but it isn’t the same as submission.  I plan to take back what the enemy has stolen so I can be Lisa, only seeking to please the One.

Do you struggle with people-pleasing, have you lost your first love?  Are you going through the motions,

unknowingly placing yourself in the lion’s grasp?  Let me know.

true confessions from a Daniel Fast

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My Dorsal Fin

I’ve spent a lot of time in school – make that a LOT of time in school.  I love learning.  It’s almost a compulsion for me, and according to my kids, an unhealthy one.   It seems, though, that after all this time I haven’t necessarily retained what my teachers intended.  I draw blanks on personality theorists and theories, and I still have a hard time keeping Elijah and Elisha straight.  Oh sure, I can play a pretty mean game of trivia, but there are a lot of gaps.

It’s the same way with my life.  There seem to be plenty of things that haven’t made it from my head to my heart.  Apparently knowing and living are two different things – who’da thunk it?  The last four years have been a particularly intense time of life instruction, and I think, just maybe, I’ve learned a thing or two.  The first, but most recent, is that I don’t like to ask for help.  This was a revelation, because as a wife and mother, I thought I was always asking for help.  You see, however, asking and liking to ask are two different things.

This revelation came about as a result of a serious car accident on March 11th.  In a head-on collision I managed to do a great deal of damage to my body – thankfully not permanent.  Still, it has required me to lay down my agenda, and let slide my own and others’ expectations of my productivity.  Almost my identity.  It has been as painful emotionally as it has been physically.
One of the most painful things has been the loss of autonomy.  I never would have said I wanted to do everything myself (still wouldn’t!), but having to rely on others has been SO STINKIN’ HARD!  Don’t get me wrong, I am ever so grateful for the help I’ve received.  My family and I wouldn’t have made it – literally – without this community of support.  But you see, I’m the helper. the doer. the listener.  I’m comfortable in that role.  Not always thrilled, but pretty much content.  Perhaps it comes from being the youngest, but I hate the very idea of being a bother, an obligation.  Even now it pricks at my heart.
I can acknowledge wanting help, but I don’t want to ask for help.  What if people say no?  How embarrassing will that be for both of us?  Rejection.  Shame.  Even worse, what if they want to say no, but don’t, and then just resent me for asking?  How about it’s all volunteer.  Knock me down with volunteering.  Read my mind.
Here’s the deal:  this drama being played out in my earthly relationships is just the visible representation of my heavenly relationship.  I deal with others like I deal with the Father.  Dangit!  I hate when that happens!

 

                                                                   

 

You see, the realization is only half the battle.  Now I have to begin to uncover the ways that my broken thinking is hindering, nay handicapping, my relationships on both levels.  And THEN I have to CHANGE!  I can’t just go halfway.
So what’s the good news?  Well, that’s the second thing I’ve learned.  God is a redeemer – no, wait, He’s the Redeemer – no, no, – my Father is my Redeemer!  He never wastes any thing, any moment, any experience.  No matter how much I mess it up or what plans the enemy had for my destruction, God will transform it into something beautiful if i will let Him.  Crazy, right?
This is what carries me through the hard times.  It’s the only reason I can choose to ask, “What do You want to do with this situation?  What do You want me to learn?” instead of becoming bitter and broken.  I still have to do the dirty work of excavating, but I’m so glad that He does the transforming.  And if I ask Him, He’ll even show me where to dig.
Finally, I’ve learned that He’s faithful – and perhaps that’s what He wanted me to learn after all.