Several years ago a pastor friend introduced me to a practice of starting off the year with a Daniel Fast. In the book of Daniel, Daniel abstained from the king’s table so that he could hear the voice of God. Many years later it is a fairly common practice to do the same. The diet is similar to that of a vegan, but with a few more restrictions. One specific difference is that for the 21 days of the fast you can only drink water. (To learn more about the fast click here.)
The process is always eye-opening, and cleansing in many ways. I find that the first week I am reminded of how much I depend on coffee. I also find that the prayer in that first week is primarily me talking. Usually, it is me asking God to take away the urges, hunger, and headaches. By the time I get to the second week I find that the rhythm of the fast has become somewhat manageable. Most days I felt really full, and I learned to function with just water.
What’s the change from the first week to the second week? Well, I think it is that I go from talking to God to listening to God. I start to assume a posture of listening. This year God sent me a really clear message:
God is enough.
The message makes sense. I have a lot of anxiety about a lot of things: selling our rental property in north Dayton, managing our staff team through a transition of God calling our new Family and Children’s Ministry Director, a board retreat on the 21st of January, and, to top it all off, feeling the angst in our country about the transition of presidential administrations.
Like many of us, I had a lot on my plate. There was a lot I was trying to carry, and that’s when I realized the gravity of the message: God is enough.
So, for the last five days of the fast I had planned on ending strong by just drinking water. My hope was to further my dependence on God, by listening ever so carefully. Well, my plans were derailed by a two-millimeter kidney stone. To say that the stone hurt would be an insult to the stone – I felt as if I were dying. The really funny part is that the stone hit on a day when I had nothing on my schedule, because I had cleared the day for a personal retreat. I didn’t know that the retreat was going to be spent bent over in agony, but I was thankful there wasn’t much else I had to deal with that day.
The whole day was spent trying to figure it out what was going on and, eventually, taking some great pain meds. I am thankful for the doctors and nurses who helped, and for my wife for always being such a great caregiver. After the painful start to the day, I ended my water only fast after just two days.
Then came Thursday. On Thursday I woke up to the reality of this: I have a kidney stone somewhere between my kidney and my bladder. The purveyor of the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life is still in my body.
I began to wrestle with the question: What do I do with that?
The doctor’s instructions are just to let it pass, but what do I do in the meantime? What do I do if the pain strikes and I’m left feeling completely debilitated?
Then I remembered what I learned just a week earlier: God is enough.
See, there will always be things in your life that scare you. There will always be things in your life that could hurt you, or give you anxiety. What I’m learning through all of this is that if I believe God is enough, then He must be enough in every situation, not just when I’m feeling comfortable.
So, whatever you are facing in the beginning of 2017, I want to encourage you by saying this: YOU AREN’T GOD.
God is enough.