War Inside Me

Well, I’m almost at the end of Day 3 of the new (yes, THIRD attempt) Daniel fast…

Day 1: OKish

Day 2: Fine except for breakfast (feeling for a brief time that I was under something religious, I had a slip — doubt is a killer)

Day 3: (today) Battling with other things led to a mess after lunch. It affects me when I do this — it’s sometimes sort of like being drunk. I need it out of my system! Thankyou God for the grace You give me to do this! Thankyou for softening the blow, so to speak!

I can do this. Those are the words repeating in my mind. I will do this.

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The 30-day period of the fast is up now, and I didn’t follow through with it at all.

So here I am restarting it again. Yesterday, Day 1, was mostly OK, except for a slip at dinner and again afterwards. I need to remain in repentance as well as obedience.

This morning was a mess. But I’m going to keep going. So here’s to Day 2 – July 26th.

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Take 2

The last few days

Once again, over the last few days I’ve relearned the same thing: my huge enemy is doubt. Almost every time I stuff up with eating it’s because I’m swinging back to thinking that I’m being legalistic. Legalism/religiousness is definitely an issue in my life, and has been for years. But I know what God’s said to me, and what He keeps saying to me. To chuck it all away because it might be legalism is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Day 5 (Thursday)

Gosh I can’t even remember exactly what happened today!

Day 6 (Friday)

Bailed in the morning and bought breakfast. Felt dissatisfied and wrong afterwards, and stuck out the rest of the day in obedience. It was a wonderful night! Had the privilege of leading someone to Jesus on evangelism!

Day 7 (Saturday)

All bad, all day in terms of eating.

Day 8 (Sunday)

Straight back into it after church. And the rest of the day was equally bad. But God really showed me His love and goodness tonight when I was with friends, just talking about all the ways God has answered prayer and provided and been lavish in His blessings!…

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Onwards and Upwards

Day 2 (Monday)

Brekky was an apple and a banana. All was going fine until I just broke the fast in the late morning and had a coffee with sugar at the new workplace I was checking out. Surprised and disheartened at how quickly I’d bailed on the fast, I fell into a pit of no-self-control when I visited a friend at his place and had lunch with him. My Mum suggested that doing this 30-day fast is just setting me up for failure when I mentioned at home what had happened. I thought she might be right.

A long convo with a friend about all that’s been going on lasted til late tonight. He counselled me against doing this fast too.

Day 3 (Tuesday)

Felt convicted and went ahead with the fast. Breakfast went well, and it was an incredible morning of God’s presence being poured out on me! Joy joy joy! And love! It was amazing. But then I felt so loosened up I thought it was OK not to do this fast, so lunch wasn’t Daniel fast food, and then it slid downhill from there.

Day 4 (Wednesday)

Didn’t obey at all today.

Honestly — so far, this is pathetic. This is seriously messed up! It’s been hours since we ate dinner and I feel physically sick and in pain from being bloated — just like I did after lunch. God, please help me to want to get out beyond this moment! Please help me to continue down the road of repentance, not just pass through the gate but then circle back time and again!

I feel like a shell of a Christian — I look squeaky clean and pure on the outside, but inside I’m an absolute mess.

To be sure, I’ve never exactly found it easy to give up a lot of stuff when Jesus asks me to. It hasn’t been easy recently. But if I want Him with everything I’ve got, hunger after Him and the life He has for me, all those empty spaces will be filled with good things.

This is also worth mentioning. It’s from today’s entry in the amazing daily devotional God Calling:

“Remember now abideth these three, Faith, Hope, and Charity. Faith is your attitude towards Me. Charity your attitude towards your fellow man, but as necessary, is Hope, which is confidence in yourself to succeed.”

I wanna be hungry! I wanna have that hunger that sets me on fire. I want out of this cycle!Image

Biting the Bullet

Well, I bit the bullet, crossed the “chicken line” this morning. I made the agreement with God that I will do a Daniel fast for 30 days.

So this is: Day 1.

It wasn’t an easy day — I had no idea how much opposition I would run up against. I barely, barely managed to say no to cake, cookies and coffee after church (by God’s grace only!–Sundays after church are usually a stumbling block for me). With such a hard-and-fast diet in this fast, it’s crystal clear just how strong the pull to eat sweets and indulge is, and just how much I’ve been relying on food and crave it for an emotional high when I feel even the slightest bit down.

I gotta keep coming back to hope, though. If there’s no hope in my head, then I’m out of step with the Spirit of hope Who lives within me.

Mess

Checking back in after a few days without a chance to write.

Here’s my summary of the last three days’ obedience:

Thursday breakfast: Went fine.
Thursday lunch: I also managed to obey, barely.
Thursday tea: Messed up. Went overboard, ate too much.

Friday breakfast: Had a coffee though I knew I was called to fast. Afterwards I knew I’d done the wrong thing.
Friday lunch: …and yet I went against His leading again and ate a meal.
Friday tea: Again, I ate. Once home I decided to trust God, though, and said no to temptation.

Today breakfast: Totally overate, and allowed lust to drive.
Today lunch: Managed to avoid the usual weekly temptation (afternoon tea) at the class I teach at on Saturday afternoons.
Today tea: Went OK… but then I got home and bailed on following my conscience, and overate.

I feel so lonely and awful now.

And it stings a little to say it, but I know I need to forgive myself now. It stings because I knew I was doing the wrong thing. I was abusing grace.

Of course, in all of this, it isn’t merely about not committing the act. Something larger is going on here – the need to walk out repentance, “produce fruit in keeping with repentance”. I can avoid the act of sin and still not have actually repented. What Jesus wants is a new heart, a renewed relationship with me. “It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation” (Galatians 6:15 NLT). I can approach this as “to do or not to do” — as if the only thing that matters is perfect behaviour. Or I can approach this as an opportunity to trust God, and then to ‘vote with my feet’ — put legs to that trust. Outward obedience without inward transformation has God yawning in boredom, I think. But He’s heaps keen for fellowship! I know the problem here isn’t merely unhealthy eating — the real problem is that I love something else more than God, and don’t yield to Him as King, or trust Him in this area.

But there’s a key in there. Have I been “transformed into a new creation”? Yes, I have. So this isn’t merely power of positive thinking type stuff: if I believe the truth and get revelation of the truth, I am connected to a heavenly reality. It’s more than just an attitude shift in me. I believe this — and yet I haven’t seen it manifest in my life in the way I want to. I need to see myself according to what is actually true about me, what heaven says about me.

I’ve been considering making a covenant with God about this, but I don’t know if I should, because I honestly don’t know if I’ll actually follow through with it. It’s hard for me to trust myself, given my track record and the attitude of heart I can so easily slip into.

“It is a trap to dedicate something rashly and only later to consider one’s vows” (Proverbs 20:25 NIV).

“When you make a vow to God, do not delay to fulfill it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it. Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. And do not protest to the temple messenger, ‘My vow was a mistake.’ Why should God be angry at what you say and destroy the work of your hands?” (Ecclesiastes 5:4-6 NIV)

I stumbled on Proverbs 28:13-14 today. Here it is in the NIV:

Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper,
but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

Blessed is the one who always trembles before God,
but whoever hardens their heart falls into trouble.

There’s a progression here — I think these two sayings are connected. As I understand it, Hebrew parallelism contrasts two things, two opposites, with each other. So these proverbs show us that the opposite of hiding sin is owning up to it before others and turning away from it — and the opposite of hardening your heart is maintaining an attitude of the fear of God.

The early church father Ignatius wrote this: “For either let us fear the wrath to come, or let us love the grace which is present—either this or that; only be it ours to be found in Christ Jesus unto life which is life indeed. Apart from Him, let nothing dazzle you.”

I find that interesting — we can choose the motive of fear of judgment, or else we can choose the free pursuit of God and His grace. Both can potentially take us home, but I’d rather not have to live in God’s Plan B, which is using the reality of judgment to motivate me.

In the process of my wilderness journey, God may take many of the things I want away from me, at least in the moment. But He will never, ever, not even for one minute, take away what I need. He will never cut me off from Himself. He is always with me, every minute, until the end of the age.

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I was really stirred watching the Paul Young sermon again, the one that inspired the name of this blog. It was wonderful, and God used it to bring about repentance in me. Time for a new path.

Here’s the passage Paul Young talked about. Genesis 32:24-32 (NASB):

Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.” But he said, “ I will not let you go unless you bless me.” So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” He said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him and said, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And he blessed him there. So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, “ I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved.” Now the sun rose upon him just as he crossed over Penuel, and he was limping on his thigh. Therefore, to this day the sons of Israel do not eat the sinew of the hip which is on the socket of the thigh, because he touched the socket of Jacob’s thigh in the sinew of the hip.

First he had to tell his real name: not Esau. (Jacob wanted the blessing that belonged to his older brother. He wanted to be the one accepted – his father didn’t love him like he loved Esau. So he had to put on someone else’s identity to get that blessing, that acceptance.) No – he had to relate to God according to who he really was. “My name is Deceiver.” (The name Jacob means “deceiver”, or “supplanter” — as the name James does.)

“I will not let go until you bless me.” What was the blessing? God had already put his hip out. Perhaps this was the blessing, the highest blessing God had to give to Jacob. A spiritual blessing — dependence on God, which is what Jacob’s limp symbolises. Probably not what Jacob expected to be blessed with, probably not what he was looking for!

And this is where God renames him “Israel”. So this is my story, too, in a way — but there’s more revelation of my new identity in Christ to be found if I’m up for a bit of a wrestling match.

And isn’t it interesting that Jacob won in the wrestling??

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A New Name