A few years ago I took a one month hiatus from writing on my blog or adding any updates to the Christian Growth Network website. If you were a regular reader of my writings, you were probably wondered where I disappeared to and what I was doing for that time period.
On "Ash Wednesday", the day that marks 40 days before Easter, I attended an evening service at my church. Our pastor was speaking about fasting for the lent season, the days leading up to Easter. He was challenging each of us to find something to surrender to the Lord for the next 40 days that will help us focus more on God and the work of Christ on the cross. He suggested some traditional ideas like fasting from certain foods and some more eccentric ones like giving up complaining (now that would be a good one!). He encouraged us to seek God for what He'd have us give up.
I took out my notepad and wrote God a question, "What would you have me to give up this lent season that I may focus more on You, Lord?" Almost instantly, the words, "the Internet" came to mind. I quickly balked, "I can't do that!" And as soon as I uttered those words I knew that this was exactly what God wanted me to surrender. So I committed to give up the Internet at night for the next 40 days.
At first, I have to admit, it was a difficult sacrifice to make. It was like the first dry days for an alcoholic, I had the Internet shakes. It's not that I'm on-line all the time and can't get off the computer, but it's more of a habit that I've developed to check e-mail, or write, or surf late at night after the kids are to bed.
After the first week, I not only felt more refreshed, I felt like my concentration on the Lord and my family had in some qualitative way improved. On a practical note, I also got to bed earlier, which meant waking up earlier to spend more time with the Lord in prayer and in His Word. All in all, it was a refreshing season.
After my fast was completed, I got back on-line and spent a couple nights working on some ministry opportunities - a speaking engagement to fellow writers, a new website that I was building (more on that later). Although I used my time wisely for the Lord, there were nights where I went to bed too late and suffered the consequences of a groggy next morning, or next whole day.
So what's the moral to this story? Here are a few things that my fast has taught me:
1)Any habit that distracts you from God or your family is destructive. Even a good thing can become bad when misused and not under the Lordship of Christ.
2)If God calls you to surrender a habit, a relationship, an attitude or whatever else, it's always for YOUR good, not because He wants to see you suffer.
3)Rest is invaluable. God has made us as beings that need good nutrition and good rest. When we deprive our body of these essentials we rob ourselves, others and God of the life and vitality we've been given from the Lord.
Take a moment to quiet yourself before the Lord and ask this one question,
"Is there anything that I need to give up, temporarily, or permanently, so that I can be a more dedicated and loving follower of Christ?"
If God has brought something to mind, I encourage you to surrender it to Him. He will honor your sacrifice and bless you with greater joy and life in Him. Amen.