I needed more than the second cup of coffee and the protein bar as I rushed toward the shuttle stop, locking the door behind me. More than the skim-through of the overnight update of news and more than the devotional on my nightstand. More than the cute shoes I found on sale. More than the curls that land in every wrong direction on my head.
What I needed was nothing for everything. A concept that runs wild in my mind but stills my heart and balances my soul to be free once again.
I’m so tired.
I close my eyes and watch the light around me fade to a shadowy black.
Then I realize: I’m not tired.
And yes, I’m functioning on lower rest than I probably need.
I swore it would just be a part of this season and I would take it as it comes.
But tonight, as I sit cross-legged on my couch, it feels like the life has been poured out of me to the point that I feel empty inside. Not the good kind of empty that’s full of forgiveness and hope, but instead a sort of wrong kind of empty. One that leaves me feeling like I’m dreaming, spinning in the depth and density of my thoughts.
Am I headed toward a breakthrough? Of course I am. I always am, because that’s where Jesus takes me. But this one is bigger this time, and with it comes a greater battle.
As I listen to my go-to, It Is Well, on repeat, I spin thoughts in my head that weave patterns with holes in between. Like knitting a scarf and missing the yarn, like digging a hole without planting a flower, there I was as a human among them.
My mind replays every lack of compassion I’ve ever received. Every broken piece of my life comes back in a wake that becomes high tide, pulling back as a tsunami. I fight against the lies that tell me I’ll never make the goals and dreams on my heart. But I’m losing. I’m not making it. And the tide is about to rush the shore.
These battles are not new. I’ve fought this all before… why is it so hard tonight? There have been days it’s been so easy, to tell the lies no and not let them in.
With my Bible open and my thoughts willing to be spread evenly like a tablecloth for a feast, my mind can’t comprehend that it is enough. I become again a slave to my past and a prisoner to my present. But still I seek.
A hunger engulfs me for those spaces to be filled. I flip through my Bible for a verse or a passage to help me, and I find the one I come back to every time:
“As far as the east is from the west, so far our transgressions have been removed from us.” – Psalm 103:12
My life verse, the one I never get tired of, the one that puts my feet back under me, has come again to save the day.
The Word is truth, and the truth sets us free. If we were perfect, which we will never be, we’d be reminded the Word is all we really need.
But this I remember: throughout the Old and New Testament there is a recurring theme at the time where major twists in the plot occur, and this theme is fasting.
I know, I know, you’ll probably tell me, I don’t need to do that. But if you do it once, I promise that you’ll do it again.
Esther, before she approached the King, asked her people to fast with her. Jesus fasted for forty days in the desert, considered even by science that this is the longest amount of days one can survive without food. Matthew 17 says that some forms of evil can only be suppressed by prayer and fasting.
So, what does that mean for us?
There are battles for our souls and within our hearts that we will fight, and fight well. But there are often battles too large for ourselves to bear. Instead of running toward food to comfort us (I see you, giant bag of Cheetos), we can make the choice to trade in our sustenance of the world for the sustainability of the Word.
So, what do I do now?
With that in mind, here’s a crash course in fasting:
1. there isn’t truly a wrong way to fast (except if you brag about it, that’s a Biblical thing), fasting is between you and God. You can make arrangements accordingly.
2. it may be for a couple hours, to skip a meal, or may be for a day or a couple days, maybe even longer (pray and ask God to guide you on that).
3. choose your breakthrough.
4. choose what you will fast: food, social media, snacks, soda, etc.- another choice is to look into the Daniel Fast, which is super cool and super Biblical, and it’s good for longer fasts.
5. Google. It can be your go-to with questions. But ask your trusted Jesus people, too, because they’ll be able to provide good advice. And talk to Jesus, too. He’s a huge help.
6. Your Bible. This is your #1 BFF. Pray for passages or choose passages that give light to the breakthrough you seek. God’s usually pretty good at pointing us in the right direction on what to read, but Google works, too.
7. Focus on the Word to fill you up. Then focus again some more on Jesus. Then let go and let God in.
There it is. It really is that simple. And I can’t express to you enough: it’s so worth it.
Good resource: Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. I’d highly recommend it (and his book Prayer is really good, too.)
Now, I’m not much for spoilers, so I’m not going to give you the ending. But I will tell you this: be full of the Spirit, and be free.
Light filled the spaces between my bones and my skin, illuminating my muscles to feel strong again. And I knew in that moment that it did not take more to heal me, but it instead took less. That’s why I remain willing to let go, because I know the breakthrough is better than the brokenness. That’s why the sun rises in the east. That’s why the sunflower stretches toward the light.
I anticipate a redemptive end to the story I’m in.