A funny thing, this fasting business. Forty days, come and gone, and I find myself to be a collection of mixed emotions.
Forty days is quite a long time. But I can’t believe it’s over already. Part of me feels like I should still have, say, a week left to go. But I’m glad I don’t have a week left. If you’re not tracking with me, don’t worry; I’m not entirely sure what I’m talking about, either. The other day, my roommate mentioned something she called “faster’s regret”. Basically, it’s a gentle disappointment at the end of a fast. I was positive I wasn’t going to experience it, because the idea of food really excited me. But, as usual, she was right. It’s the strangest thing — a few days ago, I was counting down the days to happy food time, and now, I’m thinking, “Well… yep, things seem to be going back to normal. Whoop-de-stinking-doo.”
The fast was an extremely good time for me, spending extra time in the prayer room and really regaining focus for why I’m here and what I signed up to do. (For those who are wondering, I came here to learn to love Jesus more and I signed up to stand as a watchman on the wall.) It’s been very good to get back to basics and get my eyes back on the One seated on the throne. The Lord has been speaking to me and tenderizing my heart. I know that these forty days did something in my life, and my earnest desire is that years down the road, I will be able to look back and say, “That was the time when everything changed for me.”
But I haven’t exactly been having third-heaven experiences, either. I saw no open visions. I didn’t spend any time chilling out with angels and discussing apocalyptic prophecy with them. I can point to several sweet “tokens” from the Lord, but no one big watershed moment. The fast started out difficult and ended not-so-difficult, but there was never a transition that clicked and made me say, “Wow, this is really easy!” In some ways, it would be difficult to point out what was so different about these forty days, except that food suddenly took a backseat to some other priorities.
I’m not too bothered by it, because the resounding testimony I’ve heard from long-term fasters is that the fast itself is usually a bit rough, but then you actually see the fruit some months down the road. Especially from my current perspective, I totally believe that these folks are right, but it makes it difficult to express what’s going on. Between the “keeping this between me and the Lord” moments, and then the more frequent feelings of, “It was significant, but I haven’t seen much, but I know things changed, but I’m not sure what it means yet, and I can’t believe it’s over yet but kind of glad it is”… a well-meaning blogger can find herself somewhat stumped. This post has been sitting open, taunting me for a couple of days as I have tried to figure out what on earth to say about this crazy journey I’ve been on. It’s kind of like my personal journal for this fast — I look at how many pages are filled, and I at once go, “Wow! Look at how much is there,” and then “Wait. That’s all there is?” How do you sum up forty days of pilgrimage on paper (or blog) anyway?
I don’t write all this to try and give my readers a slice of my inner perplexity. I write this because I’m imagining that somewhere, someone out there has joined in on this extended fast (in whatever capacity), or else they will do an extended fast some day, and may find themselves at the end of it wondering where the forty days went and what happens now. I want to speak from personal experience and say: Listen to those who have history in this area already. They’re right. Fasting is glorious, but not always in the “visions, dreams and warm fuzzies” way. It’s difficult, but it’s doable. It’s subtle, but it’s transforming. Keep on keeping on.
I think I’d like to wrap this up with another random list of things, looking back, that I can already see I’ve gained from this time.
- Isaiah 40-66 is really, really cool.
- Even scarily long extended fasts are absolutely possible (barring health problems).
- I am weak and immature in a lot of ways, but that’s okay. I’m the only one who gets frustrated with my apprent slow progress; God is too busy delighting in me in all my quirkiness.
- Just because I’ve been saved for nearly twenty years and plugged into a great ministry for five, does NOT mean that I no longer have some pretty lame issues. But that’s also okay.
- I actually journal now, even if I have nothing of lasting profundity to say. You might not guess it from some of the posts on this blog, but I have always been resistant to journaling things I don’t think are important or I doubt I’ll actually want to go back and read later. It’s been good exercise to write out what I’m thinking and feeling, just for the Lord and myself to see.
- I have a fire lit under me for a new focused study track (the “mystery study” from last post). And I will eventually let you in on it, don’t worry.
- I have a greater hunger to shut off all potential distractions (read: “my commentaries and my computer”) in the prayer room to make sure I spend time with just me, my little weak heart, and the Word of God.
- I have an even more huge appreciation for my roommates, and am realizing more than ever how important it is for me to be transparent with them, so that we can actually encourage one another in the Lord.
- I have seen the goodness of the Lord as He moves on many of my friends as they embraced the fast in their different ways, and how amazing His leadership is over each one of us. He knows what He’s doing, folks.
- The Lord has used this as a blessed wilderness season, a little reprieve from the craziness of life. I’m going to hit the ground running, beginning this Monday… perhaps I will have more to say about that in another post.
So since I have exhausted my ramblings (and quite possibly my readers), I think I’d better end here. But the forty days is over, it was good, and I hope to be posting a bit more regularly now. 🙂