It wasn’t my intention to start a long fast on that Monday. It was the weekly fast of my church on the day we had bible study. All the officers of the church and teachers (of which I was one) were asked to fast all day until after the study.
I had been curious as to how the characters in the Bible had accomplished such a feat. Twenty one days without food. Hardly seemed possible. And I also felt that we should be privy to any power and ability that any character in the Bible had. So I can’t say I hadn’t ask the Lord about the possibilities.
But on this day, Dec. 1, 1983 (I think), we had our usual prayer and devotional opening together in the sanctuary before we adjourned for classes. And as I returned the piano bench to its resting place, I clearly heard the Lord say, “Now do the other 20 days.” Hmmm. I wondered if anyone else had heard that. I knew no one else had heard that. And I knew I would do the other 20 days. I had no idea how.
First of all, I had neglected to prepare for a fast, so I was already in withdrawal from coffee and chocolate. I was already starving because I’d literally had nothing but water. And now I was looking face to face with 20 more days.
I didn’t have a restful lifestyle in those days. I worked full time for the church as a minister of music and bible teacher, and ALL other duties as and when specified. You know.
My other full time job was raising four teenagers along with my sainted husband, who clearly was fully engaged in the entire process. My day began at 6 am when I left the house to join the rest of congregation in morning prayer. I returned to take the ones to school who didn’t have bus service and prepare for my day at church.
That day might have involved playing for a funeral, visiting sick members, planning Wednesday night and Sunday worship, preparing for choir rehearsal and on and on.
What I can say about the fast is that on the third day, it seemed as if heaven had dropped a silken cloth over me and my appetites subsided and it was all good. Until the 14th day. I was on a fact finding mission with the church leaders and had a glass of tea to busy myself while the others ate lunch. I made the mistake of putting some artificial sweetener in the tea. Don’t ever do it. Stomach pains set in almost immediately and continued into the next day.
I’m going somewhere with this. When I was in pain I conferred with a spiritual friend who advised me to eat to calm my stomach. It certainly made sense. For those who’ve had surgery, the pain felt like those gas pains the day after.
Anyway. It was God’s plan for me to finish the 21 days. As I was pondering my decision, I opened the Bible to a scripture I’d read before. I Kings 13. The entire chapter. It’s too long a story to tell. Needless to say, I completed the fast.
Twenty one days. I learned to trust my hearing when it comes to the Lord. I learned to be obedient to the Lord. I learned that hunger can be a fleeting thing. I learned that my strength is in the Lord. And I’m continuing to learn every day. Blessings on anyone who’s considering a fast. I’ve written this under a spiritual imperative and I’m sure it’s for someone special today.