I was restless.
No matter how much I prayed or how hard I tried, I couldn’t find a rhythm for the fast. I couldn’t gather the resolve to refrain from foods I vowed I wouldn’t eat. One day I’d be successful and “holy” and the next I’d fall off the wagon without a thought.
I stood miserable judging myself for my failure. Clearly, I had lost some of my holiness compared to the past when fasting came easy.
What was wrong? Was it the fact that I was trying to hold two fasts at one time abstaining from lunch as well as eating nothing but fruits and vegetables?
Was it because the “Daniel fast” I did on my own years ago was my own version and not as detailed and complex as the one others are doing? Yet I remember the Presence of God during that earlier fast.
Are some people just better at this than others? Are they holier or are they just more disciplined?
This was my dilemma.
But I’ve learned that when I’m restless, when the rhythm doesn’t come, or the strength to do what I need doesn’t manifest itself, God is trying to tell me something. So, I listened.
The answer wasn’t audible. Nor did I hear any words in my head or spirit. Rather, the answer subtly settled in me. My eyes were opened to the fast I’d held consistently and that knowledge released me from the fast I struggled so hard to maintain.
Some may call that a cop-out. I call it grace.
Grace filled me. How do I know? It filled me because I no longer felt restless. His grace ushered peace within. The amount of peace in my spirit is always my measure of my “right” with God–my walking in His ways for me.
God told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
And Paul responded: “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Cor. 12:9).
I’ve always interpreted this verse as God’s empowerment to do whatever we can’t do. But my experience this week and a word study on the words “rest on” have given me a new perspective on His grace.
The Greek word translated as “rest on” is episkenoo. This word does mean “rest on” but it also means. . . “take up residence.”
When I prayed for God’s grace in the midst of my struggle, when I stopped trying to be strong on my own–actually I gave up, His peace took up residence in me. When I emptied myself of my own pride and strife, there was room for Him to move in.
His grace didn’t enable me to hold both fasts. His grace, this time, enabled me to let go–to be completely weak, even to “fail” in the world’s eyes.
It is often hard to know the balance between how much effort we must put into something and how much we simply rest on God to do. When I ponder this question the fight for the Promised Land comes to mind. God promised the Israelites the land. It was a sure thing, a gift. But they had to step into the land itself and fight the necessary battles.
The battles God ordained were easy. Time after time God went before them and took their enemies out before the war began. But they still had some fighting to do.
Are you restless? Maybe God is trying to tell you something.
Are you in the midst of a battle? Is it God ordained or did you pick it?
God said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Are you weak?
But that’s a good thing.
Quit. Let’s exchange our boxing gloves and our pride for His Presence.[tweetability]What looks like failure in the world’s eyes is an opportunity for the power of Jesus.[/tweetability]
May the Living Grace take residence in our hearts.