A couple of mornings later, as LeRoy and I sat sipping coffee together, the conversation sweet, unhurried, I said, "I was thinking..."
"Wait! Before you say anymore, can I tell you something that I've been thinking about?" I nodded. "I've been thinking that our family needs to do the Daniel Fast." I blinked.
"Yes. Now, what were you going to say?" I smiled. And so, we decided to begin on June 6th, (with one day that we'd take off on June 11th -- meaning we'd add a day onto the end -- in order to celebrate Isaiah's and Eli's birthdays with friends-who-have-become-family). To my amazement, the children didn't balk when LeRoy declared the fast to the whole family. In fact, they took it as a great challenge, (after some wisecracks, of course).
The Daniel Fast is basically a vegan / whole foods way of eating, except that it's limited to fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, 100% fruit juices, and water. The first few days were a struggle as our bodies underwent detoxification, causing headaches, general sulkiness, and doubt. We prayed together, bolstered one another up and by the beginning of the second week, we mostly settled into the new way of eating.
Personally, I prayed and prayed for major breakthroughs as I've noticed that old nemesis of complacency creeping into the moments of our days. More than anything, I long for our family to love God most. To love Him completely. To follow Him into any adventure without a moment's hesitation. To learn to trust Him, call on Him, depend on Him, find our identity in Him, seek Him. I prayed that giving up normal, everyday things would make us more sensitive to His touch, His leading... all the ways He loves us and draws us to Himself.
Our family had many conversations throughout the fast with many discussions on what it means to "lose ourselves." About God's economy in which His math doesn't equal our math. About laying down our lives. About sacrifice. About giving preference to others. About unconditional Love that knows no bounds. About this calling to live our lives in such a way as to reveal God's glory.
As we entered week three, the boys, weary of yet another fruit smoothie, another vegan bean dinner, asked what in the world this project had to do with worshiping God. I looked at them, genuinely empathetic, "You know where Jesus said, 'Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.' [Matthew 5:6] Perhaps this will give us something tangible to relate that to after having given up our favorite foods for 21 days?" I poured orange pineapple smoothie into tall glasses as we mulled that over.
Yesterday we pondered all the blessings from the last 21 days. After some funny, very sarcastic comments, like references to this family being the stinkiest we've ever been, the most regular we've ever been, how thankful we'll be that we don't have to go to a friend's BBQ and eat fruit... the children said: "We have more grace on one another." "We've been more loving, listened better, and we're more understanding." "We're more considerate of one another." "I feel more determined to live for what really matters." (Getting my family to share in my love of all things curry!)
Isaiah summed up the comments by saying, "It's as if I had the coolest, newest, most high-tech video game sitting right in front of me and a few feet away my Bible was sitting there. I want to be the kind of person who pushes the video game aside and reaches for my Bible instead." Me, too.
Our family has joined a few other families to go through The Truth Project, a 12-week series to discuss what is truth. This, along with our nightly family Bible reading, the books we've been reading, the messages we're listening to, the ongoing dialogue with a diverse group of families we spend time with... We are being bathed in His grace; challenged, blessed, and transformed by His grace. And what good is it to be recipients of His grace if we hoard it all for ourselves?
"He has created each of us to take the gospel to the ends of the earth, and I propose that anything less than radical devotion to this purpose is unbiblical Christianity." ~Dr. David Platt, Radical
Over the years, I've come to accept, (oh, who am I kidding? I'm still learning to accept it...), that our family is a disaster. A total wreck. We live precariously, (though I'm convinced not nearly as precarious as we ought). But the purpose? If we're not loving people with Christlike Crazy Love... If we're not sacrificially, wholeheartedly laying it all down, putting everything on the line to love people... Then it's all frivolity. Self-centered indulgence. And I confess, my world is too small. I like my comfort zone. I'm great at initiating relationships and dialogue, but lousy in follow through. So my prayer throughout the fast was that God would transform me into a radical, wholehearted follower of Him who passionately pursues people for Him... to the ends of the earth. It's still my prayer. Every day.
2,810, 000 results. 21 days. This lifelong process of transformation... sanctification. Grateful for His grace throughout the moments. That His glory might be revealed.
Soli Deo gloria.
Thank you, God, for
55. early mornings
56. boy-becoming-man willing to go with me on early-morning runs
57. Your Crazy Love
58. worship choir of birds before dawn breaks!
59. the mission to live radically for Your glory
60. a whole summer of unhurried early-morning family breakfasts!
61. friends who come for tea and conversation every Wednesday
62. open doors and opportunities to live beyond myself
63. new, fun (vegan!) recipes
64. supernatural contentment
65. oldest child setting aside his own agenda to help his sister bandage her finger
66. third oldest pausing to help his sister tie her shoes
67. encouragement, grace, and mercy spoken in potentially provoking situations
68. e-mail from cousin to say her parents are coming with her to Europe (two of my favorite people!)
69. over 3700 e-mails deleted from inbox
71. faith that grows when I am obedient
72. warm, sunny days followed by chilly, rainy days
73. the request, "When we get home, Dad, will you spend time with me?" and the ensuing time spent with sticks and knives and homemade spears and how-to-carve conversation
74. the stately buck -- with a huge set of antlers -- that stepped out from the woods right in front of us while the boys and I were on our morning run