It was day 38, and I knew for a fact that I had failed!
I had been living on a steady diet of 120 grams of rice and lentils, and I was at my breaking point. Several months prior I had taken a day for spiritual reflection, and the Lord had laid two things on my heart: a Scripture and a request.
- The Scripture, Joel 2:12 and 13: “Turn to Me now, while there is time. Give Me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead” (New Living Translation).
- The request: Spend 40 days and nights praying and fasting for my children, for the leaders of these nations, and for revival.
I had chosen to fast by eating only what the U.N. provides refugees as a daily ration. (Read my first and second posts in the series for the full story.) While I understand I am not a refugee, this was a part of their experience that I had chosen to experience.
Now, 38 days later, I sat with my family at the dinner table, having just taken a bite of food, and I suddenly was struck with the notion that I had lost the ability to swallow. I was faced with the option either to once again gut out the test I was facing or abandon the effort. I chose the latter, and I was heartbroken.
I am not the type to fail at things I set out to do, let alone fail at something the Lord had asked me to do for the brave refugees He loves. I was plagued by the thought that while I could walk away from this trial, they could not. Fasting as a spiritual discipline has been a part of my life for some time. I love to fast because it almost always reveals those things that compete with the Lord for my attention.
Noted author Richard Foster puts it this way in his book Celebration of Discipline,
“We who have turned our lives over to Christ need to know how very much he longs to eat with us, to commune with us. He desires a perpetual Eucharistic feast in the inner sanctuary of the heart.”
We all will experience failure at some time in our lives. I spent a few days in ashes and sackcloth, mourning my failure, but the Lord is faithful and spoke to me in the midst of my self-incrimination. I had failed to eat like a refugee, but I had not failed.
As we look at the news and see stories of whole cities being wiped out by war, when we realize there are more refugees today than at any time since World War II, we can find ourselves easily feeling overwhelmed with the enormity of the problem – and do nothing.
I had started out with the simple goal to be reminded of the bravery and commitment to life demonstrated by the refugees we serve, and in the end I had accomplished that. However, it can’t just stop there! Success is not final, and failure is not forever. My story has intersected with the stories of the refugees the Lord is calling to Himself, and I am changed as a result.
Bill Bright defined successful evangelism this way,
“Taking the initiative, in the power of the Holy Spirit, and leaving the results to God.”
That definition can cut across a lot of lines in our spiritual journey. What can the Lord do in you? If, as Bill suggests, success is taking the initiative in the power of the Lord, what will success look like for you?
We know the crisis of refugees can be stemmed only by people receiving the hope of salvation offered in Jesus. What amazing and incredible things might happen if your story and their story were to intersect?
Read additional posts in the series: