True Confessions from a Daniel Fast
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.