Recently, our new pastor challenged us to be a praying church. He asked for everyone to commit to taking one day during a 40-day challenge and fast from something….food, technology, TV, something that you would be sacrificing.
I spent some time thinking about this and it became pretty clear to me that God was asking more of me. I’ve been in a pretty dark place for awhile. I can’t really explain except that it got easy to do things my way and not worry too much about what God was wanting. Starting with our vacation where God didn’t just knock on my door but pretty much blew it down (you can read about this here), I was starting to realize that it was time to put the work in to get back where I should be.
I decided I needed more than just a day, I needed to give something up for the entire 40 days. Logistically, I can’t give up food for 40 days, giving up my technology would be hard to do with my job, so I started to look at what I really depend on.
Here’s the honest truth…I was drinking Coke Zero (and pop) like an alcoholic drinks beer, maybe even more. In the stressful times, celebratory times, sad times, it didn’t matter, I always drank a Coke Zero or four. I knew this was what had to go.
This was a crazy idea. Not only do I just love Coke Zero, but this 40 days included my birthday and the start of school where I need all the extra caffeine I can get.
I planned that every time I craved a Coke Zero (or soda of any kind), I would pray. I wanted some specific things to pray for. Of course, I wanted to pray for our church, my family, the school year and all the usuals but the two things I wanted to really focus in on were:
- For God to bring a close, deep friendship to my life. I have many wonderful, great friends. I definitely don’t lack in that area. I’ve seen a pattern in my adult life that when I get a best friend that I can really have deep conversations about and get real, they move. (You know who you are!)
- My other prayer was for my own spiritual life. I’ve been in a really weird place for quite awhile and although I knew my mind was changing, I really wanted to focus on putting the work in to be who God expects me to be.
Here’s the interesting thing, as I prayed for a close friend, God put situations in my path that made me be a better friend to the people around me.
When I prayed for my own spiritual life, he put situations in my path that made me get out of my comfort zone and step up my game. He also gave me situations to deal with that normally would have got my temper boiling but I have been overwhelmingly calm. Even in moments of anger, random Bible verse would pop into my head and instantly calm me.
I have missed my pop. No doubt about it. Starting a school year is hard. Without my usual caffeine jump start, it’s almost heroic. I have visited White Grill, a local, lovely greasy spoon that has my heart, several times. It is almost a sin to go to White Grill and not have a Diet Dr. Pepper with my whistle burger and suzies, but I did it. There were MANY prayers said in White Grill, and I was successful.
I’ve read my Bible more. I’ve listened to God more and most importantly, I got my head on straight. It’s easy to just be a good person and go through life without causing waves. God asks more of us. He wants us to jump into the uncomfortable. He wants us to show His love every minute of every day. He wants us to see needs before they are even spoken. He wants us in His house regularly making connections and hearing what He has to tell us. He wants us to show compassion and patience.
I don’t have all the answers and don’t pretend to, here’s what I know…I feel different on the inside. I’ve seen God working all around me. I’m glad I stepped up to the challenge. I can’t wait to see what happens next.