Today is our Annual Business Meeting of the Church. During this meeting the congregation approves items such as old business, ratifying of elders and ministry team members, budget, and by-laws. I was nervous for a few reasons. First, The Board of Elders looked at having a big revision of the by-laws instead of past times where a single change was brought. This made me nervous because since it was a big overhaul, the vote was an all or nothing deal. Second, It was cold and beginning to snow and if you know anything about snow and the south, people do not come out in the snow, which leads to not meeting a quorum. If we do not meet quorum, it will then lead to the meeting be postponed, which puts a pause on the ministry of the church.
So I began to pray boldly and with a conviction that we will have a quorum and that all voting will be approved in accordance with the Lord’s blessing. We were able to have our quorum and everything that was voted on had passed.
Since I started, this Fast, It had been amazing what had happened over the course of 21 days. Not only was I impress with the physical changes, but just the new heights of spirituality that had taken place. I have learned more about myself in ways I would never dream of if I had not partaken on this journey.
Finishing my second week of my fast, I was still blown away by how much energy I have and my heighten spiritual awareness. After Church, a few people who knew of my fasting asked me how it was going, and I told them that I have been very impressed with a physical and spiritual level of my journey.
Since I started my fast I have had a lot of interesting situations happen to me. First, I overworked my muscles during shoulder shrugs and because I was not getting a large amount of protein (from meat and shakes) I was sore for almost a full week. Second, during my prayer walks, I have had some interesting insights and moments that can’t be described on a conscious level. Finally, it had revealed a buried sin that needed to be repented of. It was one of those “ah-ha” moments that lead to a personal and spiritual transformation.
As mentioned in my previous post on going to the supermarket, it was a difficult journey in trying to find something to eat. I had to go back again, to round out my meals for the final week. Unlike last week, I was able to have a plan and know what I can get to eat. It made shopping very easy as I went with the purpose to get the items that I needed to get to finish my fast strong.
The only part that would have been challenging, was to pick up items for my wife and son, who is not partaking in the fast. One of the things I needed to get is Ice Cream. That was hard as I would usually enjoy a bowl of ice cream after dinner. Since I have been without sugar for two weeks, I am debating if I would partake in that tradition. I may still have some ice cream every now and then, but It will not be an everyday occurrence.
It has been an interesting journey, as I realized how much sugar I consume on a daily basis. IfIi can curb the amount I consume, then I believe it will do wonders for my overall health.
Today, I was making a meal for a dear friend, and congregant who has been out due to a knee replacement. I decided to make one of my signature dishes, Eggplant Parmesan. It was the first dish I ever made with Eggplant and it was this dish that made me love eggplant. So as I began to prep and get everything ready, I was tempted to take little bites here and there.
When I cook in the kitchen, I usually would eat bits and pieces of the meal that I am making. If I’m making meatloaf, I’ll sample some of the beef, and onions. If I’m making grilled cheese, I’ll take a pinch of the shredded cheese and eat it. So when it came time to make the eggplant, I wanted to eat it. take a sample of the finished eggplant product to eat, eat a sample of fresh mozzarella, and the fresh grated Parmesan.
The thing that really tempted me was the smell. It was that smell that really wanted to dive right into it or make another batch for myself. It was in that moment that I began to really pray hard. Not praying for myself to not dive into the meal, but I began to pray for people, the church, wisdom, direction. But the main thing I prayed for was to be still and wait. As I mentioned earlier in this journey I am a bit impulsive, and waiting is not my strong suit. But waiting is a discipline that must be mastered to wait on the Lord.
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)
I went on my very first prayer walk around the downtown section of the City of Staunton. At first, I debate on doing it, because of the temperature being in the low to mid-teens. Since the purpose of my fast is spiritual, I decided to brave the temperature and do the walk. I parked my car at the library and began to walk towards downtown. At first, it was cold but after a few minutes I warmed up. The walk was amazing as I would continue to pray to the Lord for his wisdom and insight to what he wanted me and my congregation to do to make a Kingdom impact on the community.
As I walked I only made three stops. My first stop was on the steps of the courthouse to pray for God’s justice, mercy, and grace through the judicial system. My second stop was on top of the Stonewall Jackson parking garage. It was a great site to pray as it was quiet, windy, and I can overlook a good part of the city. It seemed like a long time I was up there, by myself, praying over the city. The final stop was at an abandoned restaurant. Since 2015, I have felt an impulse to investigate the property. I have a prayer for the building every time I walked by it, but this time there was purpose on the possibilities on what this site could be.
I then made my journey back to my vehicle. It was on that journey that I ran into a homeless person. The guy’s clothes were in tatters, he was very timid, and when he asked for money, he just simply asked if I had any change to spare. I went and gave him a few bucks, which his reply was very shocked. He kept trying to give me back the amount, but I told him, no, to take it and maybe get something warm to drink at the few shops around. When I made it back to my vehicle, I checked the time and was out for almost an hour and a half. I believe that the more consistent I am in my prayer walk, the more clarity from the Lord, I will receive.
The third Tuesday of every month, I have a minister’s meeting where all the ministers in the area get together for some fellowship. As I was getting in my car to go to this meeting, it occurred to me that there is always a meal provided. Would there be anything that I can eat? I get to the meeting and they have a lot of great looking food. Broccoli and Cheddar Soup (Can’t eat), Salad (can eat, but with caution), garlic bread (can’t eat), cookies (Can’t eat) Cheesecake (can’t eat), and cheesecake toppings (can eat the strawberries and blueberries as they are not in a sugary syrup like the cherries).
So I get a salad and a side of fruit. During the salad, I had to combat the chunks of chicken, cheese shavings, and croutons, while I ate the lettuce, cucumbers, onions, and olives. After the meal, the topic to discuss was, “what spiritual disciplines are you participating in?” The hosting pastor knew about my fast and asked me to share my experiences. I talked about everything that I mentioned on Day 8 of my fast. Other pastors talked about vision planning, prayer journaling, and even sitting in silence. As I listen to each pastor share what discipline they are practicing I thought, “Can these other disciplines be heightened during a fast? My goal for this second week is to try a spiritual discipline and see how it goes.
Today is one week into my fast. As I reflect on the fast so far, here are some of the things I have noticed.
- Lost weight
- more energy
- more alert
- less patient
- less impulsive with snacking
- slower eating
- heighten spiritual awareness
- increase the intensity of prayer
- more spontaneous in prayer
- better at discerning situations
Out of all of the things from my fast thus far, I am surprised at having more energy and more spontaneity in prayer. With prayer, I would usually pray when a request comes through email, or at certain times (morning, afternoon, evening). During the fasting period, I would have images of people or situations come to my mind, and instantly drop what I was doing and prayed about it. Not a quick prayer, but one with conviction and intensity.
Having an increase of energy was very surprising to me, mainly because there is a market for having energy via energy drinks, soda pop, coffee, or any other caffeinated beverage. There were some days where I would need to lay down for a bit because I was exhausted and could not function properly without a rest.
Even though I have had some weak moments in the fast, I am at a point where I am seeing some of the benefits of it and liking the changes. Hope this second week will be better as I continue on.