My church, as well as many others across the country, is taking some time at the beginning of the year, to participate in a 21 day Daniel fast. For those who don’t know, it is named after a fast talked about in the book of Daniel, chapter 10:2-3. The purpose of the fast, for many of us anyway, is to set time aside at the beginning of the year to seek to get closer to God. To allow Him into our lives to show us things that may be hindering us. Perhaps to bring things to light that we may have hidden away or buried for years. To seek to find out if our life is going in the direction He wants it to go, so we can make a course correction if it’s not.
There are those who regularly take time to examine their lives, and ask the Lord to show them areas where they need change, or perhaps areas where forgiveness is needed for things done to us or by us long ago. For some this is a new process. I had been a Christian many years before I ever heard of taking time to do this.
I remember many years ago I was having a hard time dealing with some family issues. I read a couple books at the time, that were about things like forgiveness, judgement and generational issues with families. After reading those books, and talking to some friends, I realized I needed to start on this journey. Both books talked about this process being like the layers of an onion. You take care of one layer and then when you peel it back there are more layers underneath.
With the help of a friend I started walking through some of these layers. Forgiving people in my life from things of the past, and also asking forgiveness from those I may have hurt. I remember taking a walk one day, shortly after peeling back some of those layers, and actually feeling almost disappointed as I thought to myself, well, that was quick, I guess I’m done. Because, deep down although I did feel better having done what I did, I still felt like I was not nearly as close to God as I wanted and I felt like there was a barrier between us still. I knew I didn’t want to be done if I was still struggling with these things.
As I’m sure you can imagine, though I might have thought I had finished the process, I was really just beginning. After all these years it is still an ongoing process. This should be something we do on a regular basis until the end of our life here on earth. We will never finish being perfected until the end. And obviously, the more years you have been alive the more stuff you have to deal with.
God is so good. When we give the Lord permission to “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.” like the Psalmist did in Psalm 139:23-24, He will. And He does it in such a kind and loving way. If He were to tell us all at once, everything we needed to hear, or to change, we would be overwhelmed. He’s a gentleman and He waits till we are ready to ask Him to help us.
Anytime the Lord has revealed something to me, and helped me overcome it, it has felt like a burden has been lifted from me. It can be painful while you are going through the process, but the end result is so worth it.
Why then do we sometimes find it so hard to just get still and ask the Lord the hard questions about our lives? Often it is out of fear. We are afraid to deal with those things that have been hidden so long. We are afraid to ask the Lord to show us what we may be doing wrong. We are afraid of change and we are afraid it could be painful. So we stuff it down a little further and pretend all is well.
The Lord already knows everything about us anyway. He doesn’t want to bring these things out to harm us or shame us. He knows that the enemy would rather let these things lie in darkness and not be dealt with. He knows that often these are the chains that have kept us bound. He wants us to be free from anything that keeps us from being close to Him.
In Isaiah 61:1 Isaiah was prophesying about Jesus. He said ““The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound.” The Lord does not want any of His children to be in bondage.
There have been a lot of books written on these subjects. By people a lot smarter than me. Here’s the thing. You don’t need to read a lot of books or take a college class to get started. You can start right where you are at. All you need is a heart open to the Lord. A longing to know Him more and get closer to Him. An openness to be willing to change, if He tells you something to change. To forgive if He shows you you need to forgive. And to be willing to repent if He shows you something you did, or are doing that is not pleasing to Him. He loves you so much. He’s just waiting for you to turn to Him.