Not So Fast...

Fasting, it's not for the weak, or the food obsessed. I am both of these. Yet, the yearning I have to draw near the heart of God compels me to step outside my comfort zone as I learn new ways to connect with Him. Fasting was one of those connectors and it was mind-blowing in its intensity. I've had a heart for fasting since many years ago when I went on a spiritual retreat, my first ever. I got to my remote destination to discover that I had accidently left all the food I had packed for the trip at home. Oopsies. I felt in my soul that this didn't happen on accident. I mean really does anything happen accidentally when God is involved? I felt this urge to fast for the two-ish days that I was to be on my spiritual retreat. I didn't follow the urging then. Nope, I found the nearest Subway and proceeded to chow down on a $5 footlong. There were some things that happened on that trip that go beyond the realm of the physical and there were some very dark battles that ensued, I hope to share all about that trip in a later post. But this post is about fasting, it's benefits and it's many hardships. I often wonder if I would've followed the prompting on that trip what might have happened. Flash forward to a few short months ago, before I had completed my book. I felt the urge again to fast. This time I followed it. I spoke to a few trusted sources about fasting and then bought a book called, appropriately enough, Fasting by Jentezen Franklin. I was only half way through reading the book before I was so motivated that I decided I need to do this now. I planned on fasting for one day. I told just a few people, one being my husband because obvi he would need to know and the other was my sister, for prayer support. Well, let me tell you, it was MISERABLE. That first day ended with a headache so bad I literally laid in my bed from about 6:30PM on crying and curled in the fetal position. I've discovered that this is normal for fasting and it's actually a good sign. This is toxins leaving the body. Jentezen Franklin said that the worse the headache is is a sign of how badly your body needed a fast. But, that information  doesn't make the headache suck any less. The next day I felt better and I made a decision to continue my fast. I just felt I needed to fast for a full week. When I told my husband this he responded with "Why?" probably because he had seen how miserable I was that first day. I told him this "What else can I offer God that He doesn't already have?" That was it. That's why I needed to do this. I needed to sacrifice something to God that could only come from me. My mantra that week was "I don't want to be hungry for God, I want to be starving for Him." And I was. I spent so much time in prayer and meditation, scripture and singing, any way I could connect I did. It wasn't all great though. Oh no, not all great. The spiritual battles I encountered that week were terrifying. The weakness, the nausea, the hunger were the likes of which I'd never experienced before. But I loved it. I loved the weakness, the need I felt because it made me rely more heavily on God. Every time I'd pray I'd ask God to sustain me. I also loved the support it gained from my family. Even my kids said they wanted to fast some day. I fell in love with the fast, even through the agony of it. On my seventh day, my last day, I made it a point to clear my schedule and focus only on God. I worried that I'd get bored but I didn't. I'd never felt so dependent on God in all my life and He sustained me. I didn't want it to end but I knew that it must. I was worried that I'd lose that dependency that fasting had provided but I didn't. I just gained a new tool with which to connect. That fast was what led me to take my road trip to Alabama to finish the book. A road trip that I video journaled and inspired so many people. A road trip that drew me even closer to God. A road trip that although I prayed for only 30 more church signs, God gave me about 50 and I was able to finish my book. I'm now on my third fast. My second fast was a three day fast in preparation for the arrival of Maybe It's a Sign... and my kids and husband also did partial fasts. My husband ate only one meal a day and my kids fasted from all snacks. The support was amazing. I'm on the second day of my third fast. It's a three day fast and the focus is clarity. I'm trying to hear God tell me where to go next with this ministry. I will tell you that this has been the hardest fast for me thus far. So hard in fact that I cheated and ate a banana last night and a banana and coffee with creamer today. Last night I was in so much pain that I called out to God "Why do you have to make it so hard to sacrifice to you!" I've been beating myself up all day because of two darn bananas but this is what I learned and this is what I hope you take from all this jabber. God loves our sacrifice any way it comes. Just coming to Him in a quick two minute prayer or spending time in the Word or using our God given abilities to serve. Any sacrifice of our time and our talents that we offer up to God, I promise He receives with such love that it would literally blow your mind. I said literally and I can't stand that word but it's relevant here. So, as I was beating myself up over the two bananas today and apologizing over and over again to God for how weak I was this time around He just loved me and in that love I felt his absolute appreciation for the sacrifice I was making. His appreciation for my sacrifice? Isn't this the same God who sent his only son to die for me? Yet he appreciates my half-hearted sacrifice of a three day fast in which I cheated? Yes. The answer is, was and always will be yes. Now, let me leave you with this point to ponder: What is the one thing that only you can give to God? The one sacrifice that only you can offer? I encourage you to find it and offer it up and even if it's not perfect God will love it.