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An Interesting Adventure May 17, 2009

Posted by Michelle Knoll in Journeys.
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Greetings to all who enter here!

Back on March 22, I posted that it had been too long since I had written anything on this blog, and said that in about two weeks from that time I would be letting everyone know what had been going on.

Well, I DID write a post last month, actually 5 separate posts, explaining events that took place during my silence here.  The series of posts was called “A Journey with God” and I thought my description of what God had been leading me through was pretty clear.

Apparently not.

After a couple of friends gave me their reaction to what I had written, I realized that the message I was trying to convey wasn’t coming across at all.  So, I took the posts down, thinking I would either rework them, or something. 

It was a good thing I did, because the story I told — the journey — had barely started.  There ‘s much more to it, and it’s a lot deeper than I first thought it was going to be.  But then, God typically works in deep ways.  It’s also much more personal than what I could easily share about here, so for a while it’s not something I’m going to be able to discuss.

And that’s okay.

So… I took down the five posts called “A Journey with God.”  For those of you who read these and commented, thank you.  But for those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, just consider this an apology for any confusion you might be feeling right about now, and don’t worry about it.

I said all of that to say this:  there was one part of the journey that I felt might be beneficial to some, so I’m going to post it again, and you all can glean from it what you will.

During the first couple of weeks in February, I felt like God was calling me to fast.  I had fasted before, but never for longer than four days.  Still, I sensed within myself that this really was what God wanted me to do.  So I prepared myself mentally for the idea that it could go on a really long time.  Well, to ME 40 days seemed like a long time, and even though I wasn’t sure that it would last that long, I still prepared myself as if this fast was going to be that long.

On February 23, I began.

First of all, I take very seriously the words that Jesus spoke when He said, “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do….But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen…”  So for the first two weeks, my husband was the ONLY one who knew what I was doing.

However, when two weeks passed and the fast hadn’t ended, I became concerned about being alone in this venture.  Still, I didn’t want to go against God’s Word of “not being obvious.”  So I told only one person, a good friend at our church who is a faithful prayer warrior.  I told her what I was doing, and why.  She listened intently, and said she would pray for me.  I asked her to please let me know if God gave her any wisdom or advice for me.  She said she would, and throughout the whole fast, she did.

The first two weeks was a big learning experience for me.  First of all, one should not eat a big meal the day before starting a fast.  Yes, I did that and yes, it was stupid.  And I paid for it royally.  Enough said about that.

Secondly, I was in deep intercession for a friend of mine (one of the reasons for the fast), and during the first two weeks of the fast, I began to experience physical symptoms similar to what he was experiencing from chemo treatments.  My symptoms continued throughout the fast, though they were lesser in degree than his.  It was very interesting, to say the least. I have interceded for many people over the years, but have never had that sort of experience.  It caused me to pray even more fervently for this friend, because if my “small pains” were hard for me to deal with (and sometimes they were), how much more was he going through?

Believe it or not, there were no food cravings during this entire fast.  Not one.  God empowered me all the way through, and helped me to continue to buy groceries and cook meals just like I usually did. I even fixed some treats for some friends during this fast, to help celebrate the reunion of a husband and wife who hadn’t seen each other since January.  (When I think about those two, and how they’ve had to be apart for months due to work requirements, it always reminds me that I don’t have it so bad.  Please bless them, Lord…)

During the heart of the fast, God began dealing with things in my life that I hadn’t realized were so out of line.  One of the things I realized was the “casualness” with which I approached God.  I know and understand that God is Almighty, and that there is none like Him; however, in the constant communing with Him as Father, I didn’t realize that I was slowly moving away from an attitude of awe and reverence.  So I was convicted that this needed to change.

Another thing that He showed me was that I was becoming too outwardly focused. God has called each of us to some form of ministry or service, but that should not take the place of fulfilling our roles at home.  The point is: balance.  And the only way you achieve that balance is by first seeking God every morning.  Today’s wisdom, today’s “manna,” is for today, and to get us to tomorrow.  So another thing I was reminded to do: seek Him first, every morning.  All things I know, and should be practicing; however, in the busyness of life, it’s easy to not practice what you know.

There were other things that happened that I can’t describe with words.  I knew that God was working on me in deep ways, but I wasn’t sure what it was all about.  When I shared this with my prayer warrior, she said, “This is preparation.  Just go with it.”  So, I did.

An interesting thing happened around the end of the fourth week.  I was having to deal with an issue that got me irritated.  Even when fasting, everyday life happens, you know?  And I am human, so sometimes I fail to respond to situations with grace.  Well, as I got more and more upset, I realized that my stomach was hurting, and quite badly.  So if you’ve ever doubted that emotions can affect your physical well-being, then let me assure you: emotions have a direct impact on your stomach and it’s function.  Without any food in my stomach, I knew what had caused the extra acid to be produced.  Clearly, I needed to get rid of the emotion.  So I repented, and asked for forgiveness. Then, I forgave the others involved.  As soon as I did that, my stomach started to settle.

On another occasion, I was having a particularly stressful day, and suddenly realized that my body ached all over.  I stopped and considered: what was causing the achiness?  Then I took a couple of slow, deep breaths, and tried to focus on something peaceful and uplifting.  As I remained still and quiet and focused my thoughts, I noticed the achiness began to subside.

If you’re a Christian, then you’ve probably read Paul’s words, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”  Well, I encourage you to really think about the connection between spirit, soul and body.  It is quite real.

Now… one of the biggest lessons of the whole journey:  God revealed to me that I am stubborn, and fiercely independent.  And when I saw that this was indeed an issue, I was heartbroken.

I’ve never been one to think that I’m better than other people.  On the contrary, I’ve always considered myself less than everyone else.  However, I’ve always desired to be the “strong one,”  one that can put her own needs aside, no matter how serious those needs are, to help others.  I’m an encourager, and one thing that an encourager does is “be there” for others.  Always.

Strength is not a character flaw; God wants us to be strong, in Him.  However, God also wants us to remember that in the body of Christ, there are no “islands.”  We are all part of each other.  It doesn’t matter if I’m the big toe or the elbow, the pancreas or the appendix.  I can’t do this Christian walk by myself.

Granted, I have the Holy Spirit inside of me, and He is my teacher, comforter, and guide.  But God showed me that I must learn how to ask for help when I need it, which means that I also must discern when I really need help.  So now, I’m trying to look at the issues in my life a little more objectively, and not quite so heroically.  I’m learning how to “lean” on others when I need to, and I’m learning how to “let people in,” and I’m learning how to say, “I just can’t do it all by myself.”

It’s part of being teachable, you know.  

May I always remember this, Lord Jesus.

When it was time to come off the fast, I knew.  The water no longer satisfied, and my stomach began to wake up.  On Day 39, I felt the first true hunger pangs during the whole experience.  I discussed it with my husband, who agreed: it was time.  I was somewhat disappointed, I must admit, because it wasn’t quite 40 days.  However, the Lord comforted me with the fact that He received 39 stripes during His scourging before His crucifixion.

39 days… 39 stripes.  I thought that was interesting, since one reason for the fast was to intercede for the healing of my friend. And I didn’t mention this earlier, but during the second or third week, as I was praying for my friend, I sensed the Lord speak to my heart that the healing had been accomplished.  Not manifested in the natural, but that God had spoken, “Done.”  So my prayer over this person became one of thanksgiving, rather than warfare.

Still, the battles rages on in me for this one.  For the devil doesn’t give up easily, and continues to pelt me with thoughts of fear, worry, doubt, and the like.  But I am not unaware of his ways.  When I get still and quiet again, I remember what I sensed within my own heart.  God said, “Done.”  So, it’s done.

When will this healing manifest? Don’t know.  Not my concern.  I am charged with believing my Master, and standing firm in what I believe.  Nothing more.

See, sometimes we go beyond what we should do.  Think of your own kids, if you have kids.  How many times have you looked at them and said — as they ask you tons of questions about the situation (But why? So what happens next? And then we will do what? etc.) — “Just do what I tell you to do! Don’t worry about the rest!”  Same thing for Peter, when Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” “But Lord, what about this one?” “What does it matter what happens with him? YOU follow ME.”  (Cookie Lady paraphrase)

Don’t get ahead of God.  Just do what He says.  As my prayer warrior told me one day, “Don’t look too far into your future. You’re right where you need to be.  Focus on now.”

Good words.

One other thing that I realized on the last couple of days of this fast:  my spiritual birthday is the Wednesday before Palm Sunday, and I made my public profession of faith on Palm Sunday.  Guess what? The fast ended on the Thursday between those two days.  So, God had this planned.  To wrap up the first 40 years of my walk with Him, He had me fast for almost 40 days.  Like closing one era, and opening another.  And I remembered that my prayer warrior said, “This is preparation. Go with it.”

Preparation for what?  Don’t know.  That’s not what I’m supposed to be thinking about.  All I know is, I need to continue to walk with Him, hand in hand, step by step, and listen for the next thing He tells me.

Like I said, there’s more to this story, this… journey… but for now it’s stuff that I really can’t share.  Not just yet.  When the time comes, if God allows, then I will share.  Since ending the fast, God has shown me so much.  He’s revealed things about my past that explain so much, and now, He’s helping me to walk out of that, and into a fresh new frame of mind.

I can’t encourage you to venture forth on an extended fast; only you, under the wisdom and guidance of your pastor and your personal doctor, can decide if God is calling you into such an adventure.  However, I can encourage you in this: seek God with all your heart, and listen for His voice in everything you go through.  He’s with you, and He’s wanting to take you on an amazing journey, one that you will never forget.

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