It is fasting time at our church. We take the first three full weeks of the year and dedicate them to the Lord by fasting something and spending more time in prayer. The idea behind it is to quiet the flesh and realign ourselves with God. This gives way for us as individuals and as the Body to hear God’s heart for the year to come. In this time one might get a single word or a theme for the coming year. I find that if I don’t already have my word (I start asking in December) I get my word, a verse, and some pretty stellar ideas for the year to come. I also feel that I am closer to my Creator by the end. The lessons folded into the fasting time are priceless!
This year, I planned to do the full Daniel Fast. This is pretty restrictive and I am finding that it is too difficult to do with three young kids who would likely starve if I made them do it with me. (We are going to continue it, but make a slight modification next week). Being the cook in the family also adds a lot of stress when it comes to meal planning and cooking. The stress fell on me like a wet blanket just three days into the fast. Here is the thing: I woke to a two-hour delay this morning for my oldest who was returning to school for the first time since December 19th. It threw my day off a bit. I was stressed on top of being stressed. I had grand plans of writing the morning away, as well as praying and supporting my online women’s group. I felt heavy and struggled to see this day going well.
Then I heard the Spirit invite me to go have a cup of coffee.
What? I thought, no this is just a temptation. I am fasting coffee among other things. I shrugged it off and plowed through another hour at home trying to get things ready for me to go. But it stayed in the edges of my mind. By the time I was ready to go out the door, I felt it was truly an invitation from God. Here’s why:
He has been teaching me about human shortcomings. He is redeeming my past ideas that my successes and failures are the determining factor in the closeness of our relationship. As I weighed out the idea of having coffee, a thought slipped in and said, “If you have coffee, your writing will be fruitless.”
Honestly, that ultimatum was a big help in allowing me to see that the coffee was an invitation from Holy Spirit. See, that is not how Holy Spirit talks to any of us. He doesn’t try to pressure us into the good with fear tactics. He speaks life over us and our journey with God. Ultimatums are the Enemy’s style. He motivates with pressure and fear. He rushes us into decisions.
So here I sit having enjoyed this gift from the Father in the middle of a day that just isn’t going as planned. I drank that warm, delicious cup of coffee. I don’t feel guilt and shame. I feel His love. I feel adored and cherished. My performance of this fast is not about 0 errors or 100% success. Neither of those results guarantees closeness with the Father. I can succeed with perfection and grow no closer to God. If my whole focus is fulfilling my commitment, then I have missed the mark. My goal should be to put these things at the Fathers feet and yet not allow them to trip me up as I press into our growing relationship. I am not chucking the fast out the window. But today, He invited me to take a coffee break, and I took it joyfully.