Daniel Fast, Day 8: A Confession

Okay.  I have a confession to make.  I guess this is actually a late evening of day 6 confession, but this is the first chance I’ve had to sit down and share, so anyhow.  Here is it.

Well, okay wait.  First let me tell you this.  In this first week of the Daniel Fast, I’ve struggled more in the past couple of days than I did the first five or six.  Why?  Well, I think it’s because of a realization that I had on that evening of day six that’s changed it all a little.  In all that I’ve had to give up eating for this time of fasting, the hardest part has been the sweets.  I’m not a big meat eater, so that part hasn’t been tough.  Doing without bread has been somewhat frustrating, but I’ve been able to substitute whole wheat tortillas for “sandwiches” so that’s kinda worked out.  The dairy has been kinda hard…I do love my yogurt and cheese, but still it’s been manageable to some degree.   No sir, buddy.  It’s been the sweets that have just about done me in.

And so for the first six days (especially those first couple), I had my mind set on finding some way to make something sweet and dessert-y that would still fit within the Daniel guidelines.  I made oatmeal cookies – and I use that word “cookie” very loosely because they were nothing like real oatmeal cookies.  I also tried a different recipe that had bananas in it, but it was worse than the first batch.  They tasted like soggy cardboard with banana flavoring.  Not at all like a cookie.  I did make these things called Almond Butter Bites, and although they are actually pretty good, they still weren’t quite the sweet I was looking for.

And then finally on the sixth night I hit the jackpot.  Banana peanut butter ice cream…sort of.  Frozen bananas in the food processor with a little peanut butter and bam!  Totally hit the spot.  Or at least it did.

Right up until the second that I felt suddenly convicted with that last bite of pseudo-ice cream.  Convicted because I hadn’t really given up sweets, I’d just been searching for a poor substitute until I could get back to the real thing.

And so here’s my confession:

Even in the midst of the fasting from the thing, I was still trying to replace it with the same somewhat-less-tastier thing.  I wasn’t really giving it up at all.  I was just subbing something else in its place.

And totally missing the point…and probably the blessing…because one of my prayers for this time of fasting was for God to break my addiction to sweets.  But I wasn’t really doing my part.  I hadn’t REALLY sacrificed the sweets to God.

And I realized that as good as that frozen banana peanut butter combo was, it wasn’t worth allowing myself to do this half-heartedly.  I had to either give it to Him or not, but I couldn’t fake my way through it.  Because He knew.  And I knew.

So, I started today with a fresh perspective and now that I’ve made my confession, a clean slate.  Whew.

Lord, I am so grateful for your mercies that are new everyday.  Thank you for your convictions that keep me from slipping off the path.  Renew my faith, break my chains, and create a clean heart in me.  I submit myself again to you, Jesus.  You are God and You are good.

Taste and see that the LORD is good.

Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!

Psalm 34:8

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light through the glass door

I was sitting at my kitchen table this morning reading my devotion, which just happened to include Psalm 51. Psalm 51 is a confession psalm for sure.

Wash away all my iniquity

and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,

and my sin is always before me.

Against you, you only, have I sinned

and done what is evil in your sight,

so that you are proved right when you speak

and justified when you judge. (v. 2-4)

At some point, I glanced up at the front door where the sun was shining through the glass of the storm door and was pretty distracted by what I saw.  The glass was dirty…all smudged with finger prints, sticky marks from the little rubber grabbing hand my son got out of the prize box at school, streaks from the last time the door got wiped down but obviously not well, and your every day average dirt smears on the outside as well.  I hadn’t noticed it really until the sun was shining right through the door.  The light seemed to call out every little smear and streak there was to the point that I had to get up, grab the Windex and wipe that thing clean.  Or at least I thought I had.  I’d sprayed it from top to bottom, inside and out, and wiped off all the Windex.  Satisfied, I put up the cleaning supplies as sat back down to finish reading.  But when I glanced up at the door again, although it wasn’t as bad as it had been to start with, it still had lots of streaks and smears.  Clearly this wasn’t going to be a quick job.

But something else sort of caught my attention as well.

There was a strip of the glass at the top of the door that was perfectly clean.  Or at least it seemed to be.  But I realized that where the sun was climbing up in the sky, it was no longer shining through that strip of the door because the porch overhang was blocking that little bit.

dirty front door

I’m not sure how well you can see it in the picture, but if you look at my neighbor’s roof, you can see the line of where the seemingly clean glass stops and the streaky glass starts.  As long as the sun wasn’t shining right on it, it appeared to be crystal clear…but it wasn’t really.

It took the light shining throught the door to see the dirty.

And it takes shining the light of Jesus on us to see the sinful places.

For I know my transgressions,

and my sin is always before me. (v. 3)

Because my sin is always before me – even when I can’t see it…or choose not to see it.

It’s funny what God will show you when you’re willing to look.  And it’s funny what you can see when you’re looking at it through the light of God’s truth.

Starting today, my church is joining together for a corporate fast for the next three weeks.  And my prayer for myself for this fast is for God to really use this time to shine His light into the dark places inside me.

Show me my sin, Lord.  Prepare my heart today to confess those sins that I’ve ignored because I’ve chosen not to look at them in the light of your Word.  Strip away my pride, and teach me humility, Lord.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,

and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (v. 10)

I know that this is no quick task, but rather a daily thing.  A continuous coming before the throne in submission and repentance.  And today is the first step.  Today I’m ready to open the door and call darkness out into the light.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation

and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. (v. 12)

I know this time of fasting is from the Lord.  It has to be.  I can’t think of any other reason why I would be excited about removing sweets and ginger ale from my table.  There’s no other real explanation for why I’m looking forward to the next 21 days without cheese.

Save me from bloodguilt, O God,

the God who saves me,

and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.

O Lord, open my lips,

and my mouth will declare your praise. (v.14-15)

No, the timing of this is only the Lord and I cannot wait to see what’s going to happen in my life, the life of my family and my church family over the next three weeks.  Healthy new habits are being made, friendships are being formed, people are encouraging each other, but above all else…the face of God is being sought out.  Praise God for the movement of His Spirit today and in the days to come!

And as for me, Lord…I surrender.  Shine Your light, Jesus.

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;

you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;

a broken and contrite heart,

O God, you will not despise. (v. 16-17)