Sunday, November 05, 2006

This gets personal

Pride. It crops up everywhere, sneaking up on me, taking me by surprise. Just when I think I have a handle on things, here comes pride to knock me flat.

There came a point in time this summer when I determined to pray and fast for a particular purpose. Fasting is supposed to be a secret thing, and, to some extent, so is prayer. As a nursing mother, I can't fast completely, so I decided to fast all foods containing any sort of refined sugar or yeast. That meant no breads or sweet stuffs. I didn't make a big announcement about this, except that my family knew about it. I didn't want to make a big deal out of it, I just wanted to be able to fast in some way.

When you go off sugar, however, something happens to you physically. You lose weight, for one thing. You also begin to feel better, you get healthier, you have more energy, and you even have some improvement in your attitude and overall outlook on life. This last benefit is especially enhanced by increased time spent in prayer. None of this physical stuff goes unnoticed, which kind of brings your fast out into the open.

People noticed that I had lost weight, and that I looked better. You can't lose 30 pounds or so in 3 months and keep that a secret! I hadn't counted on that. And there was no red flag anywhere warning me that this was a test of my humility. All I knew was that I was suddenly wide awake at 4:30 every morning, able to pray and read my Bible, and I was enjoying getting closer to God. I was getting consistent with it, too. It wasn't hit-and-miss any more, some days praying, some days not. This was an every day thing that I hadn't really been able to achieve before.

But gradually there came a change in my thinking. Instead of looking at, say, a brownie, and thinking, "No, I'm fasting to pray for [insert reason]," I would look at the brownie and think, "No, I'm really excited about this weight loss thing that I've never been able to accomplish before. And, oh, yeah. There is that business of praying for [insert original reason]."

I also had grandiose dreams of God moving in revival in response to my prayer and fasting. I mean, we read about these people who prayed all night, fasted regularly, etc., and then God moved in revival. Why couldn't I be one of those spiritual prayer warriors that people would read about 100 years from now?

Why didn't I think of 1 Corinthians 10:12 then?

It wasn't long before I recognized the pride creeping in. Then it was like I was caught in a trap. I figured I'd better stop drawing attention to myself, so I didn't tell anyone what was happening. Well, then, how do I ask for help? Because I really didn't know how to handle this. It was hard to even pray about it. The fast had become a mockery, and I eventually gave it up. I casually mentioned to people that I wasn't abstaining from sugar anymore, but was just taking it in moderation. Hah! If you were the proverbial fly on the wall in my house, you'd know almost right away that the sin of gluttony afflicts me.

Before long I wasn't praying anymore. It was just too hard to get out of bed in the morning. Oh, I wanted to pray, it was just too hard. Then I didn't want to pray. But yet I did want to pray! You know how it is, ". . .the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would" (Galatians 5:17). In this sort of battle, you know who wins? The one you listen to most. I was listening to the flesh.

We know a pastor in Texas who has his sermons on Sermon Audio. Last Sunday I was home sick, and decided to listen to some of his sermons. Later I e-mailed him. He e-mailed back, saying he was glad to hear from me, that he'd been thinking about us, and wondered how we were doing. You see, my husband has had this passion for revival for a long time. Every where we've lived, other people have seen this passion and been affected by it in some way. This pastor in Texas is one of those people. He says that he thinks God is beginning to work in their midst down there, and wonders if it is the beginning of a true revival from God. And, like others, when he thought of revival, he thought of my husband. So he asked what God was doing here in our little part of Canada.

I began to e-mail him back, telling some of what's been going on here. I soon began to weep. I suddenly remembered what this summer had been all about. How could I have given it up so easily? How could I have grieved my Lord this way? Oh, the grace that was shed upon Peter! Oh, the same grace that has been shed upon me!

"And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not. . ." (Luke 22:31-32).

"Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matthew 26:41).

"He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. . ." (John 21:17).

"It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness" (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Why am I sharing all this with you? For a couple of reasons.

First, there are people I care about deeply who read this blog--family members, friends who live far away, people in our mission works in Ottawa and Quebec City. I wanted all you guys to know what the Lord has been doing in my life, and to ask you to keep praying for me.

The second reason is that I am really tired of being put on a pedestal just because I have nine children who are all homeschooled. I am flesh and blood. I fail many more times than I would ever want to admit. Stop being awed by me. Be awed by God.

Pearl

3 comments:

Rebekah said...

Thank you for sharing you struggles with us. I have had many struggles personally, in family situations and in our church over the last six months. With this new pregnancy, I often find my tiredness, my sickness creeping in as my excuse for not reading and praying. Yet, in the times of intense battles, internal and external, it is our greatest weapon against the enemy. We all need to be often reminded that it is at the throne of grace that we find mercy!
Thanks again for sharing.

pearl of grace said...

Rebekah, I feel for you in your sickness! It's such a blessed time, yet also so hard. You probably know these verses quite well, but they mean a lot, especially the paradox at the end:

"And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong" (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

Twinklemoose said...

Pearl,

We constantly mess up. Just keep going to the cross.

Sylvia

P.S. My fasts tend to end in gluttony too. I don't like it one bit.