“Surely then you will find delight in the Almighty and will lift up your face to God. You will pray to him, and he will hear you, and you will fulfill your vows. What you decide on will be done, and light will shine on your ways.” Job 22:26-28
At the end of 2010 I committed to beginning 2011 with a month of prayer and fasting. Our Elders and the leadership of several other congregations in our area issued a call to a week of prayer and fasting. This call resonated with me and I decided to devote a month to prayer and fasting as I sought the Lord about His purposes for me in the coming year. Then Becky died and fasting became the instinctive response of my body. About half-way through the month of January I had to give up the fast and force myself to eat because I was suffering the consequences of not doing so. This year both in response to another call to prayer and fasting and to my own inner urges to seek the Lord I again entered into a January-long season of prayer and fasting. The fast I chose was to abstain from meat, from sugar and sugar substitutes, and for the last 10 days or so, from coffee and caffeine. As it turned out, some of this was very hard for me and some of it very easy. My prayer focus was once again seeking God’s purposes for me in the coming year and some heart-felt prayer for people I love. There was also a critical issue related to Becky’s death over which I had no control that had been ongoing for nearly a year without resolution. In everything I longed to see the Lord glorified and others come to know Him more.
As the month unwound, I wrestled with God about one thing He was speaking clearly to me. At the end of 2011 I accepted an assignment from Him and took great joy in accomplishing it, but now He was saying “OK, that’s done – time to step back.” I found myself saying “OK God, but maybe I could still help out some?” Over and over God patiently confirmed that it is time for me to step away from this task. I sensed a “Well done thou good and faithful servant” from Him, but the assignment was clearly done. I have to laugh about this now – I was asking for guidance, but I struggled to receive this guidance because it really wasn’t what I wanted to hear! My inner child was having a field day!
Today God affirmed to me that He has been listening to me over the course of this last month. Today is the day I broke my fast. As I pulled up to a drive-through to get my first mocha of 2012, the phone rang. I answered and heard words that are the resolution to the year-long issue over which I had no control. I heard this clear answer as I received the mocha and saw a brilliant rainbow in the sky. God was jubilantly shouting to me that He hears, He answers, He is in control! This out loud, ‘so clear I couldn’t possibly miss it’ answer gives me HUGE confidence and hope for the other prayer requests I’ve fasted over in January. It also gives me a deep desire to enter into obedience in the places God has so clearly spoken to me.
My response was unrestrained tears completely mixed up with joy and awe and grief and missing Becky all over again. The resolution to the problem ties up something related to her death that has been hanging for a long time. It is another closure on something I never wanted closed. But in this is joy and comfort and peace knowing that God sees, God hears, God comes down, and rescues. And somehow I know it is all OK and my faith is deepened again even in the midst of my hurt.
“Praise be to the LORD, for he has heard my cry for mercy. The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.” Psalms 28:6-7