It takes more than that

26 OCTOBER 2016, 02:09 PM

I really thought I would be successful that time. But I was wrong. My efforts were not good enough.

For some weeks already I was planning to have a fasting in a place far from home – an ideal haven where I could have a full hold on God. Though my determination still falters on the last few hours, I still believed I would finally have it.

It made me think then and have a deeper introspection. What contributed to my failure? Or more blatantly, am I that far from God already that I could not fast?

Maybe it would help more if I say first my reasons for fasting.

My first reason is the feeling of utter helplessness. I have become so desperate in my situation that I needed something powerful just to meet my spiritual needs. I was actively pastoring a Church for the past few months, and the time has come that I would like to be the sheep now and not the shepherd. I would like to be fed and led, and be strengthened. I need the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ, to heal my dying soul. I was like a deer panting for water (Psalms 42:1). The whole Psalm Chapter really says my condition.

Secondly, the ministry demands it. The last time I fasted about two months ago the gift of healing flowed powerfully everytime we prayed together. I do not mean that I receive more of God’s power when I fast; His miracles and healing are released by His grace and not by our good works. But, by fasting God is more able to prepare me first for His great works. Still I could not say that fasting is my little contribution, because I became successful in some of my fastings only because of His Grace. In God’s mysterious design, I fast and pray, and He moves more — yet I have no part in that. Maybe it is because God exalts the humble (James 4:10), and that fasting is basically the humbling of the soul before God (Psalm 35:13).

The third reason is that I really miss my intimate moments with the Lord. Since the advent of the wi-fi connection at home, my habit of long time spent in praying died with its coming. Much worse happened when I bought this Android cellphone. I am inclined into technology and it consumes my time heavily. I have to fast to break these addictions. I have to separate from the world and be silent to once again hear the voice of the Lord.

Lastly, I need guidance and answers. Does the Lord really want me to pursue my teaching profession while pastoring? My logical mind says no, for teaching will take much time from me — some quality time that I should spend with God and with the members of the Church.

Now let us return to the first question, why did my efforts to fast fail?

One reason is that I lacked all the necessary preparations. Before you fast, you have to prepare yourself spiritually and physically. I lacked both. I rarely prayed for it, and for some weeks already I was staying late at night then woke up late in the morning. Fasting demands that I saturate myself first in fervent praying, and that my physical body is prepared for it.

The second reason for my failures is that I have to make some things right first. Of course I know I will fast to ask for God’s help me to fix the wrongs in my life, but I do sense that I have to fix some of them now before I meet the Lord in prayer. Fasting is a sacred time with the Lord and for sure it has the spirit of repentance, but we will be able to show that our repentance is truly true if we start making amendments in our life now before the time of fasting comes. After all, my shortcomings in the family and Church really take the issues right back at the heart of self-denial and obedience. If I would really deny myself now and choose to obey, more than half of my shortcomings would be resolved now even before I fast. I hate to approach God in fasting with fake repentance, and much worse, to fast with no real intent of changing my ways, just like what God saw in Israel when they fasted in Isaiah 58. They fasted hypocritically with no repentance in their hearts.

To fast before God with a right heart is not a complicated thing, but not an easy one either. It takes more than sheer determination. It takes more than a simple sacrifice. It takes more than the usual planning. It will demand your everything — because you will meet your Holy God.

The Endless Pursuit

Jesus

Sin always finds its way in me. No matter how much I try to avoid it, in so many subtle ways it could always reach out to me. God’s Grace however, catches me for restoration.

Matt Redman sings in his new album, Your Grace Finds Me, that God’s Grace is the same for the saint and for the sinner. Yeah, yes. There is grace for the righteous and for the sinner, or in other words, for the saved and the unbeliever. But also, no. There is a special kind of grace that is exclusive only for the saved. In God’s eyes, the saved are forever righteous. They have been justified. And, in great contrast, the good works of the unsaved are like filthy rags. Strong comparison. Heart-flattering for the saint, condemning for the wicked.

Sin damages my heart, and God’s Grace is always there to heal me. After committing the most hideous sins, i would bow down in prayer and ask for cleansing and forgiveness. Yes, immediate cleansing I receive, but it should not stop there. True repentance always calls for the changed mind and heart, and of course ways of life. Period. Anything less than that is not true repentance but only confession.

It is indeed an endless pursuit. Running away from sin, being taken by sin, and being catched and snatched away by God’s grace.

As long as a saint is on earth, the pursuit is endless. In heaven, this pursuit cannot happen. How I long to be with Jesus!

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