“Fear can keep us up all night long, but faith makes one fine pillow”(Unknown author).
Last time we met we talked about how in order to have real faith, we all need to come to the place where we realize sometimes the only option left is divine intervention. That moment when we realize there’s nothing humanely possible that can be done to create the desperately needed miracle. Even though that’s one of the scariest places to find yourself in, it’s also one of the most peaceful. And that’s where I found myself in February of this year.
God and I wrestled one night, over a decade ago, about a certain promise. A promise born out of one of my deepest fears, back before my faith muscle was very strong. A promise that has been tested numerous times, yet I’ve clung to, ever since.
During this journey, approximately six years ago, God laid it on my heart to fast and pray for forty days for my family. For those of you not familiar with fasting, it’s willingly sacrificing something, usually food, for a set amount of time. It’s taking the time and attention you would normally give to something and instead give it to God, showing He is indeed first in your life.
The first week of those forty days reshaped our family’s life as we had previously known it. It began a journey I can’t say we welcomed with open arms. However, I can say that along with the various trials laid before us, we experienced many blessings as well. Fast forward to February of this year. Yet again I felt very strongly that God was calling me to fast for forty days for my family, specifically for divine deliverance regarding the crisis that began back in 2007. I obeyed and trusted God that He would deliver on the promise He spoke to me over a decade ago. After the fast was complete, I continued to praise and thank God for a promise that hadn’t actually occurred yet, but trusted (had faith) was coming.
Around the end of May, I began reading a terrific book, The Circle Maker, by Mark Batterson. He explained how to pray circles around promises you feel are from God. I again felt led to fast, but since I had just ended a forty day fast for the same promise, I wondered if I was giving in to fear and trying to take back control through manipulation. I prayed for almost a week asking Him to make it clear to me whether or not I was to take this leap of faith and fast again.
I told God I would be more than willing to fast if that was what He wanted me to do, but to let me know, please, without any doubt it was His will and not me trying to be in control. As He usually does when He wants to communicate with me without distractions, God woke me up extra early the next morning so I could enjoy my quiet time. God made it very clear He was asking me to fast. This time I felt He was calling me to a higher degree of sacrifice. Seventy-two hours was the answer given to me and I agreed. Never being good at math, in the early morning hours without a calculator in hand, I thought that meant six days. If you stay with me, you will see the point I’m making once you stop laughing.
This occurred right before Memorial weekend. That meant I was agreeing to begin the fast on Wednesday and I wouldn’t resume eating until Tuesday morning. Normally going without food for that long would be a struggle in itself for someone with food issues, but over a holiday weekend seemed extra difficult. However, I realized if God was asking me to sacrifice six days out of my life for divine intervention, I was willing to obey. The anticipation of having a long asked-for promise fulfilled would be a bigger blessing than getting to stuff my face with my loved ones.
I finished my quiet time and went back to bed. It wasn’t until I woke up to start my day that I discovered 72 hours is only three days. However, I believe God allowed me to make that mistake for this very reason. I was willing to step out in faith, giving up food for six days in order to trust God for a miracle. Because of that willingness, He blessed me not only with a peace about His answering my heartfelt cries for my family, but He gave back half of what I was willing to sacrifice within the first few hours.
When we step out in faith and give up something of importance strictly in obedience for something He’s calling us to do, despite the fear we may feel, He gives back in greater quantity. That’s the way a loving Father works. That’s the assurance we can have from the God of the Universe.
Will there be times in our lives that our sacrifice seems too great? Absolutely! Will there be times when it feels like we’re only getting the trials and not the blessings? Yes, that’ll occur to, but only for a time. In the end, (and the end is different for all of us since God’s timetable is personal for each of us separately), the blessings far outweigh anything God asks us to give up. But…in order to reap the benefits, we have to step out in faith, and that usually doesn’t occur unless there is an element of uncertainty, fear, or we have reached the end of our human resources.
That’s the encouragement I want to offer you today, my friend. Are you at a crossroads in your life? Is there an insurmountable obstacle in your life that will require a huge leap of faith to overcome? Have you considered giving it to God or have you been too afraid to give up your sense of control?
God isn’t the enemy. He isn’t waiting to strike you down or punish you for your fears, your insecurities, or your mistakes. He is instead, lovingly waiting with open arms for you to come to Him in faith, not knowing how but trusting that He will.
© 2013 Cheri Swalwell