Fasting & Raw Flesh
June 17, 2017
by Jennifer Drake
This fasting journey has been so revealing and so fruitful. I was surprised, and then I realized how I shouldn’t be surprised, that I had so much grace for it. I’ve never been a successful faster before. But then again, I’ve never had my heart so aligned with Papa’s before. I’ve always fasted for things that I’ve wanted or of which I was unsure, not for things that I knew were the desire of His heart. Also, I’ve never been hungrier for the things of God than I am in this season of my life. I so desperately need Him to come because I desire to be entirely free of the bonds of sin and death, to not doubt who He is and who He has called me to be, to walk in the revelation of “It is Finished.” And I even more desperately want to see that for all of humanity, for eyes and ears to be opened, for revelation of the incredible goodness of our God to be released.
So, back to grace… Although I’ve never been able to deny myself food in the past because it has been an idol for me, a source of comfort I would run to instead of God, for the first five days I felt like I was in God’s pocket. I was weak and I was hungry, but my hunger for Him and His glory was always stronger than my hunger for any food. I have been on a liquid fast allowing for juice, black coffee, tea, and broth and so on and it left me feeling unsatisfied and yet when I would think about eating any solid foods I would know in my spirit that it wouldn’t actually satisfy me. It may alleviate some discomfort, but it would be such a shallow feeling compared to the satisfaction that I was hungering for. In fact, there were even moments when I would want to add in something that technically could be a liquid but wasn’t necessarily acceptable in this particular fast and Holy Spirit would just gently nudge me and say, “How hungry are you?” and I could walk away from it. My spirit’s hunger was louder than flesh. I say all this, not to tell you how wonderfully my fast is going, but to lead up to revealing to you the most fruitful part of my fast up to date: my failure.
To make it easier for you to engage in understanding how I failed and how that could be fruitful, I feel like I need to reveal to you the small details of the workings of my heart in the process, so bear with me. Yesterday afternoon I had left to run an errand and my amazing husband, Chris, was kindly watching the kids while the youngest was napping so that I could go, and I agreed that I would hurry so he could get to his next appointment as soon as possible. Now, I have in past been affectionately labeled by friends as “the wandering child” and for good reason. Where my husband and many others are gifted with a strong sense of “stay on task”, even when I feel the urge to rush and try to stay on task, it takes a significant amount of will power for me to not be distracted by anything and everything. Now, with a couple of one or two minute distractions spurred on by clearance signs and good sales, on top of being in a store I’m not familiar with and that seems to not be laid out in a way that makes any sense to me, AND picking the slowest line possible, I ended up heading out too late for Chris to make it to his appointment on time.
As I was leaving the store, I called Chris and apologized as I always do when I end up taking too long, and I explained that I couldn’t find anything in the store, that I even left without one item that I couldn’t find at all, that the meat I was supposed to pick up needed to be restocked so I had to go back for it and that the line took forever. All of those things were true but I was omitting a significant truth that I didn’t stay on track. Chris even asked me, “Considering that you have a strong “P” tendency (for those of you who don’t know Meyer’s-Briggs, this just points to my tendency to be in the moment and not be task oriented), were you rushing?” In that moment, I was thinking back and remembering that I felt like I was rushing, even when I was distracted, so I said yes. I quickly realized afterward that I could have gone faster though, and though I felt like I was rushing I wasn’t making decisions to stay on task and therefore hadn’t honored him in his request for me to go as quickly as possible. I quickly decided that it would just cause him more unneeded pain to bring that up and that I would just need to try to do better in the future. So, we finished our conversation and Chris was disappointed but forgiving and let it go.
Not a minute after getting off the phone I felt Holy Spirit nudging me…”You need to tell him the truth.” I was terrified. In my mind, revealing to someone something that you have hidden is the most vulnerable thing you can do and therefore the most dangerous and I wasn’t sure my heart could handle that. “He’s going to be upset with me, Papa!” My heart wanted to run away, but he asked me that question again, “How hungry are you?” I knew this was an invitation to go deeper with God and I was hungry for that, so I relented. Chris actually called me back at that moment, so when he finished telling me what me needed to say, I stopped him and I revealed what I had hidden. He was obviously hurt, not about my getting distracted and wasting his time but because I had hidden it to make myself look better. I had broken his trust. How many other times had I hidden things from him to make things appear better than they were? I had never really thought of it that way before… Our conversation was cut short because he reached his appointment, and although he had said that he forgave me, I could tell that his heart was still unresolved and for me that is excruciatingly unbearable. Enter Shame, stage left…
At this point my flesh is screaming out, “Feed me!” and I stuff the nearest food I can find in my mouth and quickly followed more food. I was desperate for anything that would make me feel better, more comfortable. Though Grace was lingering in the background still close and available for me to grab at any point like a lifeline, I plunge into old, familiar Shame and let his voice flood my mind. “Wow, you really screwed up, Jen.” “You can’t do this.” “Who do you think you are?” “You’re just a big f***ing screw-up!” (I apologize for the harsh language, but Shame is a pretty nasty character and does not pull punches and I won’t paint him prettier than he is. He fights hard and he fights dirty when he gets any opportunity to swing at us.) All the while as I’m struggling with Shame, Holy Spirit is kindly remaining with me, walking me through the unfolding of my heart by reminding me of many other times I have purposed to hide certain information in order to not stir up hurt or anger in other people, all under the guise of sparing the other person pain, but now realizing that I was sparing myself. It became clearer to me how I had broken trust and how I was not walking with integrity in my relationships. I was able to go back and repent to Chris and he was able to truly forgive me and connection was restored, for which I am incredibly grateful.
I didn’t realize before how badly I didn’t want others to be upset with me about my poor choices. I couldn’t bare it, just as I was unable to bare it in that moment. As Holy Spirit is revealing this in his kindness to bring me freedom, Shame is right there trying to tell me how sh**y I am and making sure I know that I was failing at my fast and that pretty much I am a failure altogether. I knew I had a choice at that moment. Shame no longer controlled me. By the grace of God, I had broken my pact with him awhile back, but I still could choose to listen to him in that moment or I could ask God for help and be lifted out of the muck and the mire. I wish I could tell you I chose the latter, but another thing was revealed to me that day…The reason I had difficultly revealing my poor choices or even looking at my poor choices was because I actually believed in my heart I was a screw-up. Holy Spirit had been highlighting it here and there in different situations, so I knew he wanted to help me come out of that lie, but I wasn’t ready yet. I kept barely looking at it, saying a quick prayer and running away! For some reason, I felt like there couldn’t be any other truth. So, blinded by Shame, I shut my God out and decided that I was giving up on the fast for the night and I would start everything back up in the morning. Not a very mature move on my part, but God is forever faithful.
So, here it is, the next morning. The shadow of shame is gone and I am left with the raw truth of my frailty. What a mess I made. How could I have hidden from the one I love? It continually surprises me how God will use our greatest moments of weakness to bring us deeper into Him. As I lay on my pillow last night knowing I had gone overboard on breaking my fast, I asked God for grace the next day as I was going to start my fast again and I knew it would be brutal. He responded to me, “I will give you grace to fast, Jen, but you need to feel the consequences of your choices. You hid from me and you ran to food for your comfort. You need to feel the pain of that choice and learn from it.” I fell asleep last night knowing that I was going to feel physically awful in the morning, but also knowing my Papa had disciplined me and that he loved me dearly, so my heart was still full. He had no shame or disappointment in his voice, only hope for how I may grow and learn from this. I am crying as I write this because He, even in this moment of me uncovering my messiness to all of you, is rewriting my truth. I am not a screw-up. I mess up, but it isn’t who I am. And it isn’t who you are, either. We are sons and daughters of the Most High God and we are deeply, dearly and eternally loved, mistakes and all.
So, see, it came full circle. In the midst of me failing in my fast, God, in His incredible kindness, was able to bring about revelation that answered the very cry of my heart in my fast to align me with my identity in Him and to be able to share His goodness with others. As I begin my fast again today, head pounding from consuming too much sugar yesterday, I am reminded of my own frailty and His amazing grace. His grace is more than enough for me. I pray for all of you who are reading this today, that you will enter into greater revelations of His goodness and have the grace to walk in deeper levels of love, peace and humility. Blessings on your journey.