Question of the day:
What can I expect to happen after the fast is over?
What’s next? What happens after I fast? Many of us ponder this question as we near the end of a fasting experience. The answers can be as many and varied as the stories of people who’ve seen what fasting can do . . . to change not only circumstances but to change THEM. Here’s one such story from a member of our Free Chapel family . . . one that is true, and triumphant.
When my husband died two years ago, my step-son, Sam, arrived high on heroine and took with him a valuable family keepsake and his father’s credit card, within days of the funeral – to get drug money. The discovery of his theft and betrayal was a final straw for me. Perhaps justifiably, I called the county sheriff and swore out a warrant for his arrest. “Enough!” I said, and put the matter away, righteously resolute in my decision.
As the months wore on, the action I had taken was soon forgotten until one day an email arrived. Sam’s mother said that he had been arrested. He was in jail under suicide watch. Upon looking at the police report for the first time, one word jumped out at me: felony. Suddenly, the white-hot indignation I had felt was exchanged for an ominous, bone-chilling reality: my step-son, my child, was facing life-altering prison time. I can’t tell you how that felt, only that life as I had known it was over. The law had taken its course and there was no turning back.
I spent the next two days going from the sheriff’s office to the district attorney’s office – AND I FASTED – for the first time in my life. Each visit, I couldn’t get past the front desk. Round and round I went, accomplishing nothing . . . growing more heartsick with despair as the clock ticked. I’d surely never fasted before, so I began searching for something – anything – to read to “get my mind off” the situation when a dusty old book seemed to surface from the back of a forgotten stack in my office, The Authority of the Believer by John MacMillan.
I started reading; the words were old-fashioned, but the strangest thing happened. I started to see Bible verses popping into my mind, like someone was standing over my shoulder whispering them into my ear. Verses from the 23rd Psalm read and memorized long ago, coming to life . . . “The Lord is my Shepherd . . . I shall not want . . .” “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me. . . “
All at once, the words of that promise crystallized: SURELY goodness will follow me . . . SURELY mercy will follow me . . . and I knew in that moment the literal reality of this promise. I knew that if the hammer of the law fell on Sam, I would never have goodness again. I was being robbed of a promise MY Father made to ME. I was under attack! In that moment of clarity, the helpless desperation I had felt was replaced by holy determination. And I began declaring that promise and demanding that the devil back off.
I suddenly had the urge to go to the sheriff’s office again. On the way, something said “Turn!” In an instant, I instead found myself in the office of the district attorney, standing in front of the same receptionist I’d had no luck with before. “It’s all over,” I thought. “There’s no way I’m going to see anybody at 4 o’clock on Friday . . .” when out of nowhere a woman appeared down the hall. “Are you being helped?” she asked. Before the receptionist could object, I stepped into the hall and replied that only the district attorney could help me. To my utter amazement, she said, “Well, he hasn’t left yet . . . come on back.” Within the hour, the DA had agreed to allow me to drop the charges against my step-son. On Monday, Sam was on his way home, totally free.
In that time of fasting, it was like a veil lifted and I was able to see the utter truth of God’s every word . . . that He means what He says. I can stop the enemy from stealing the goodness God intends for me to have. Did fasting cause that impossible sequence of events to fall into place? You’ll never convince me otherwise. Did Sam deserve to be arrested and have the book thrown at him? Some would say so; in fact, the district attorney insisted so. But that time of fasting taught me that though an action may be justifiable, who am I to stand as judge. Is being “right” worth the price I and others would have to pay.
As I finished the fast and was thanking God, I came across Micah 6:8 . . . a verse that’s still on my dressing table to this day:
“And what does the Lord require of you but to do good, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.”
Wow – what a testimony to the power of fasting! But keep in mind that not all answers are as immediate, or dramatic. This woman received an 11th-Hour answer to an 11th-Hour crisis. More often than not, God responds over the weeks and months that follow a fast. Remember . . . all of the miracles in Jesus’ life took place in the three years following the fast that launched His ministry. Most of the books of the New Testament – and the entire expansion of the early church – came in the years that followed Paul’s initial three-day fast.
The wonderful news you have to take with you following a fast is that you can live with great expectation and with the knowledge that you are different because you have been in the presence of the Lord. There may be a time of waiting, especially if other peoples’ wills and destinies are involved in the answer. There also may be a matter of timing, where God is working behind the scenes in ways that you can’t see. But like the woman in our story, fasting will slough off clutter and distraction and allow the promise of the living and active word of God to shine through as an unshakeable truth. So continue to speak the impossible and stand immovable – knowing that, according to Romans 8:28, God HAS heard your prayers and petitions and is working all things together for your good!