I’m definitely not the world’s best Christian.
A month ago, my church in Nashville began thirty days of prayer and fasting. Everyone did something different for the thirty days, but all of us were encouraged to fast from something. Some people literally didn’t eat during the day for the whole month, while others gave up social media or Netflix.
I had never fasted from food before, so I chose a sunup to sundown fast every Wednesday. I figured it would be almost no problem for me.
My first day of fasting rolled around, and I just felt off the entire day. Honestly missing food was hard but what really hurt was the lack of coffee. My body is used to two cups a day, and I felt horrible without it.
The sun went down around 5:15 that day, and I literally could not wait. Then I got stuck in a meeting at three o’clock. There were donuts in this meeting and after an hour in the room with them, I couldn’t resist.
The next week’s fast went a little better, and I made it all the way to sundown. However, every other week after that went the same as the first. I would pretty much quit the fast by three or four at the latest.
Every week at church, our pastor would ask who felt less spiritual than when they had started the fast, and I put my hand up every time. I was failing to keep the fast, and I didn’t feel any closer to God as a result of trying.
It honestly kind of sucked, and I felt a lot like a spiritual failure.
Let’s talk about covenants.
Basically, two groups agree to do some stuff for each other to help both sides out. ‘I scratch your back, you scratch mine’ kind of stuff. God makes a lot of them throughout the Bible.
He promised to make Abraham the sole father of literally billions of descendants. Abraham just had to worship God and have faith in His plans.
Years passed, and Abraham still didn’t have a child at 90. It’s hard to have descendants without kids. He was told by God to wait and have faith for a child with his wife, but that same wife soon talked Abraham into sleeping with a servant girl so that he would at least have an heir.
Generally, if one person broke the covenant, the other person wasn’t held to it’s requirements. Yet, God still gave Abraham a son with his wife, and that line continues to this day.
God held up His end of the bargain.
I’ve started teaching at a church recently.
Some of the people there will have only my teaching to nurture their spiritual growth for the whole week. No pressure, right?
This Sunday, I planned to co-teach a lesson with the pastor who founded the place. He texted me 45 minutes before the service started to say his two year old was sick and he couldn’t make it. My roommate asked me how it went after the fact and all I could say was,
“I preached way better than I prepared.”
I should have spent at least an extra hour practicing for the talk. Despite that, it went far better than I could have expected. I can only explain that with the fact that the Holy Spirit had my back.
I did not do well in that fast,
yet in it’s last week, I got a girlfriend. I got asked to apply for a program that trains church planters. I gave a VIP tour at my University. I had a random guy who came on a tour offer to fly me to the Hampton's with him over the summer.
That being said, a relationship with God is not a one way street to personal success.
I wasn’t doing the fast so that I would get a girlfriend or go to the Hampton's. Even if I was, I wouldn’t have deserved that stuff by the end of it. I also certainly didn’t earn my way to a successful talk at church this past Sunday.
I think God gave me the success He did in the talk and after the fast as a means to say,
“I love you even when you screw up.”
I don’t know if it’s ever possible for someone to live perfectly on this earth. At the least, I know I don’t, and yet I’m learning that God’s love and grace serves to bridge the gap.
When I grasp for a closer relationship with Him and don’t make it, He pulls near. When I try to preach a holey (as in full of holes) sermon, He fills in the gaps with points better than anything I could come up with. He’s a good God, and He’s faithful to his people even when we are far less than that to Him.