Last week I attended a Night of Worship at the Dover campus of NewPointe Community Church. I am a pastor at one of the other campuses, so it was nice for me to just be a regular guy attending and worshiping. I have to admit I went to see if I could get some ideas on how to make our worship event better the following week. As I got there and walked in I connected with a few people I know, but was pretty anonymous and slipped into a seat about a third of the way up. As the music started I sang, prayed and even raised my hands throughout the evening. I was also critiquing some of what was happening, making note of things I would do differently and things that I liked.
Then God did something unexpected. I don’t remember the exact time during the service or what song we were singing, but I heard God say “Don’t Eat!” I have to admit I was a little startled and confused. I asked God if that was from Him and if I heard him right. I heard it again “Don’t Eat!” That same morning in the church service I sat in on at my campus our senior pastor had mentioned the idea of Fasting as a spiritual discipline. I have fasted before with other people and by myself. I have given up TV, sports, coffee, food, meat and movies. Yet this time was different because God was telling me not to eat.
So I didn’t eat any food for the next three days. Each day I talked to God and when I asked if I could eat I heard “not yet”. During those three days, I was hungry and even felt some hunger pains. Yet each time I thought about being hungry I immediately connected with God and talked to Him. I felt such an inner peace and strength that seemed to get stronger each day. This three day fast reminded me how much I take food for granted. I don’t have to wonder where or when my next meal will come from. I can eat anytime I want and eat anything I want. Yet I am not all that grateful for what I have.
It’s the same way spiritually. God is with us all the time, we can talk to him anytime and ask for anything. Yet too often we take that for granted and only turn to him when things go wrong or we need something. Those three days of eating reminded me that I need God 24/7. That when I am connected to him the temptations are less powerful, the way I respond to things is much better and I make better decisions.
Psalm 63:1 says “God you are my God. I search for you. I thirst for you like someone in a dry, empty land where there is no water.” When I read that I had to admit that I do not pursue God like I would pursue water if I had none. Am I really hungry for God, desperate to know him more and more?
Jesus said this in Mathew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
When push comes to shove, what is most important to me? What takes priority?
God doesn’t need people to evangelize the earth, do missions projects or give away millions of dollars. He looks for people who will worship him in spirit and truth. Not just on Sunday mornings or whenever our day of rest is. God wants people who will worship him in the way they live. God made us to worship and every day we worship something.
When I hunger and thirst for God and seek him with all my heart, I get a glimpse of how much he loves me. As I grow, I understand a little bit better the depth of that love. God’s love for me never changes, yet as I change and grow, I get a clearer perspective of God, the world around me and the people in it.
That all came as a result of hearing two words from God and then obeying him. What would happen if we would listen to God all the time and really trust him with everything? What would happen if we did what he told us to do? What if we would follow his commands and live our lives fully surrendered to him?
On Thursday morning I woke up and knew I could eat again. The granola with Almond milk tasted better than ever before. I was grateful for the food I had in the house and once again my mind turned to God and his provision and care for me. I had a good day with my wife and got some time to rest and relax.
Then on Saturday something happened that I almost missed. It’s easy to just write things off as weird or a coincidence. I was bored and was flipping through the television, looking to escape into a movie or something entertaining before the Buckeyes came on that evening. We all know that there are lots of unwholesome things on television and I can get drawn into movies or shows that have too much sex, violence and bad language in them them. As I was searching, the smoke detector in the room beside be would beep from time to time. I thought that was odd, but dismissed it because I figured it just needed new batteries. I ended up watching a movie that was not the best choice.
I told my wife afterward about the smoke detector and as I was telling her I realized the smoke detector is hard wired and does not use batteries. It has not beeped since then. Then it hit me, was God warning me, trying to get my attention and help me avoid temptations. Then this verse came to my mind in 1 Corinthians 10:13: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
I wish I had that power I felt when I was fasting all the time. If only I had paid closer attention to that warning, I could have fed my mind with something much better. I don’t always turn to God even when he is right in front of me. I guess that is the human side of us, yet God’s love never changes and he sees me as his beloved son even when I miss the way he gives me to escape temptations.
I am excited about what God is doing in me and who he wants me to become. The more I seek him and hunger after him the more he can use me to impact and influence other people. The more I listen and pay attention and then obey what he is telling me the more fruitful my life will become. We are all in process and when we allow God to drive and we trust him amazing things can happen.