“Even now,” declares the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning.’” Joel 2:12 (NIV)
Last fall, God invited me to fast. He had invited me to a series of fasts in 2016 and they were quite successful. However, instead of keeping with the lessons God taught me through those fasts, I quickly fell back into old habits and lifestyles I had given up.
As a result, I tried to fast by my own initiative several times during the following spring and summer to regain the healthy habits I had lost and to give God my addiction, but continually failed time and time again. I couldn’t understand why I kept failing when I wanted to want to, but the want to just never came.
However, September 2016, God invited me to fast again. I knew it was Him because of the way He presented the invitation. He showed me several Bible passages about fasting and praying and I knew there were some areas in our family’s life where I needed to press in… and fasting is a great way to accomplish that.
While I wasn’t sure the exact amount of time (at first) or exactly what He wanted me to give up, I knew that I was being invited and I could accept or not. He would love me the same if I said no, but I had a feeling God wanted to bless our family with breakthroughs as well… and was waiting for me to “step into the river,” do my part first before seeing the results. So I asked God. I asked Him the amount of time and I asked Him if this was truly His invitation or just another “godly” attempt at self control for dieting sake.
I got my answer within a day or so. We had planned a fall getaway for the family and it was supposed to occur mid-September. However, that trip fell through and instead we planned a different one approximately a month later. The first trip was one of the things that was preventing me from committing to the fast. I knew that I had less than a week before the trip and to start, stop and then start up again after returning home wasn’t the best way to approach a fast. I also knew that fasting while on a trip is doable, but awkward. However, when I realized that we weren’t going away in September and we would instead leave a month later, then I knew that God was opening up the door for me to start the fast NOW instead of waiting or starting, stopping and then restarting. He knew my heart desire was to commit fully to Him by accepting His invitation and He also knew I wanted to set a good example to my husband and children about true fasting. And God allowed me to accomplish both.
When I saw the dates, I realized His answer. He wanted me to fast for one month: September 13th through October 13th. I knew I would be giving up my free food in the concession stand for helping during the football games. He knew pumpkin spice latte was available already for the season as well as caramel apples, candy pumpkins and candy corn… but He also knew that I want the breakthrough I’ve been praying about for my family more than I want to enjoy those aspects of fall. And He also knew I didn’t want to wait for that breakthrough to occur. I had already wasted the spring and summer months… I didn’t want to wait any longer.
Or did I? Come back next time as I explain how God’s love (and invitations) are incredibly personal – even while He invites us into a period of fasting.
© Cheri Swalwell 2018