1. Thankfulness. It seems to comes much easier when there's much less. Right now, when lunch rolls around and it's time for my bowl of tomato soup, I really, really appreciate it. I actually savor it. Before I might be out shopping and trying to decide what I'd have for lunch, which restaurant I'd go to if I didn't go home to eat, etc. And often, no matter what I got, I wasn't totally happy with it because there were so many other places I could have gone. I wasn't truly thankful. Now I have much less for lunch, fewer options, and yet I'm really grateful.
2. Simplicity. Last year I went out and bought expensive "health foods" that were allowed on the Daniel fast, some of which we just never ate. (Regular oatmeal can't go much lower on the food scale and still be palatable. And Ezekiel bread isn't bread... Ditto for all natural peanut butter..) This year we're sticking with some simple, cheaper options which means our expectations are not for a major feast but rather for something else. Or Someone Else, we hope...
3. Priorities. I have it so easy because I'm retired. Phil has it tough. Last night he went to bed early (day 3 of working without any caffeine) and when I came into the bedroom an hour or so later, he was asleep in a semi-sitting up position, lamp on beside his bed, his Bible and journal spread out on his lap, and his pen still upright in his hand. I know he was exhausted when he came home and I know he wanted to watch a movie. But he didn't. He gets upset with himself when he falls asleep reading his Bible which happens occasionally; to me it just says he's trying to keep his priorities straight after a long day at work. And I think God will honor that.
4. Affirmation. Many mornings the first thing I want to do is check Face Book. I look for "likes" on my last status updates, for news of what is going on with my friends, and for any comments my friends have made. My heart tells me I need to go to God for affirmation (and correction, guidance, etc) but often I give in and hit FB first "for just a few minutes." Sometimes those minutes stretch into an hour or so. Now there's no struggle about getting alone with God first thing in the morning. Basically He has no competition! (As part of the fast, some people went cold turkey on FB and I am one of them. And yes, I did have withdrawal symptoms ...which we won't discuss...:)
5. Humility. See point number 4 above.... :) What I'm saying is maybe I need a little more humility instead of so much affirmation from FB. If that makes sense. Is it really good for part of each day to be driven by the number of "likes" and comments I get on the things I've posted? Not sure. Thinking it through.
6. Listening. Frankly, I find that I'm not very good at listening for anything God might tell me. This was a bit of a surprise to me. God has spoken to my heart in times past and it's not always been what I wanted to hear but it's always been good. Right now, however, I find that I want to do more talking than listening. Is this because I've simply gotten into the habit of being in the driver's seat, doing all the talking? Or am I holding Him at bay with "prayer chatter" the way a relative does with us because she doesn't want to give us the opportunity to discuss deep seated issues that she has? Also thinking that through.
7. Knowing. On the fourth day of this fast, I find myself hungering to know God. When the trips to this place or that are pared down, as they are while I'm on a simplified diet, it has really dawned on me that the most important thing in all the world is ... knowing Him. As He is. Not as I sometimes want to make Him out to be. Maybe He's not always Comfortable God... but He's God.
8. Love. We've been studying Hosea in our Sunday School and these verses have been riveting for me:
Break up your fallow ground for it is time to seek the Lord... 10:12
Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them in My arms; But they did not know I healed them... 11:3
How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I surrender you, O Israel?...My heart is turned over within Me, all My compassions are kindled. 11:8
I will heal their apostasy, I will love them freely....14:4
Does God love this much? Is He willing to make Himself this vulnerable?
I heard someone announce recently that their husband had found a younger woman and so she (the wife) was having to move suddenly, without any warning, after 20 years of marriage. I knew she had to be hurting but she hid it well, showing only a brief flicker of disdain and anger before shrugging her shoulders and saying, "I'll be fine." She didn't want to make herself vulnerable by showing how much his adultery and rejection had hurt her. And I understood that - it's natural to protect ourselves when we've been slammed by a loved one.
So again, I look at the story of Hosea and ask with tears in my eyes...
Does God love us this much... this deeply... with this much longing.. to the point that He is willing to make Himself, almighty God, vulnerable to puny,always straying, disdainful man?
If so, this is love.
9. Weightiness. If what I've written above is true, then His love is no light thing. It's huge, weighty, worth more than anything else that we can find or grasp. Can this be true? Is there such a deep longing in His heart for even me? For all of us? Even on the days when my thoughts center around, "What's on FB...? Where will I eat today...? Why didn't I get a steak instead of a burger...? How can there be another load of clothes to wash...? Why don't I have the things that my neighbor has...? I need ______(a nap, a riveting mystery novel, a new purse, a fun movie, anything but God....because He's always there, right?)
Sorry for being redundant. But if this is how He loves me, it's weighty (for lack of a better word!)
10. Thankfulness. Back where I started. If God loves me that much in spite of, not because of, then I have more than just a bowl of tomato soup to be thankful for. Ya reckon???