My skin hurts today. Aching from without to within, like a steel toothed brush has been working at the rust spots in my life. Working in small, calculated circles on the chrome, with the kind intention of cleaning me up to make me a beautiful display of splendor. But it hurts. And He's working down-deep too, down under the hood and into the achey guts of my engine, that I might run this race to the end.
El Roi, the God who sees, sees every bit of iron oxide clinging to my chassis, and loves me too much to leave it there, so He's using this forty day fast to take His straight-blade straight to my heart.
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. (Hebrews 4:12-13)
I've seen my husband work those oxidized reddish-yellow spots from each classic car he's carefully restored, and there's always a razor-blade in his skillful hand. I call him in for lunch, but he's bent over like a craftsman, focused, tenderly involved in the beautification process. Nothing else matters in that moment, or the next or the next. He doesn't hear the dinner bell either, or little boy voices calling daddy to the table. He's focused in and won't stop till that chrome shines right and bright. Late into the night, long after he turns the floodlights on, he's still cutting, scrapping it away, sanding it down into particles. Finally, at long last, he leans in and blows upon the dust, until nothing ugly remains. There is only the shine of chrome, restored.
God's that way with me right now, wrapping His fingers around the blade and carefully cutting away, scrubbing away, sanding away what's fixed itself unbecomingly upon me and within me. Then He blows, knowing I'm but dust, so that all that remains at the end of this restoration process is a holy thing.
This temple is a holy thing cased in flesh.
I was so naive when I suggested this 40 day sugar fast. My intentions were good, no doubt, but I hadn't the foggiest idea what fasting was really all about. No, that's not true, I did have an idea, a wrong idea, an incorrect expectation of how this would play out. I fully excepted a mountain top jig with my Savior, as I turned from the false gods who had taken up residency in my life. All the rust slowing my engine down spiritually would fall like shackles, then Jesus and I would dance upon them together. Sure there would be convictions, and those would be unpleasant for a time, make me cry, cause me to cling, but on the other side of repentance I would know Joy.
That was my expectation for the majority of this forty day fast... Joy.
But I'm still languishing in the valley, under the knife, with my close companions weeping and mourning, because God's not yet finished with my restoration process.
Where'd I get this idea that being all emptied out would be fun? That humility and the cutting away reality of God's convicting Word would take place atop a mountain. And then today I remembered that time Jesus fasted for forty days - 33 days in and I'm just thinking to look there now.
Leafing through thin Bible pages I came to this heading:
Jesus is tested in the wilderness
Tested. No, not, "Jesus fasts and prays in joyful celebration" or "The Son of God has a spiritual high when He goes forty days without eating," but "Jesus is tested in the wilderness." Missing the fine print, that's one thing, but this bold text heralds how it's really going to go down... with testing... in the wilderness. I'd missed that, because I was expecting to dance my way through this spiritual journey, leading captives to freedom, and maybe lose a couple of pounds in the process. And the sandpaper burns as I learn, it cuts away pride as I learn, it divides falsehood from truth as I learn...
Jesus is tested in the wilderness
Today the Lord has given me His understanding of fasting - This is a wilderness time, a lonely, dry and parched, hungry time, as the master craftsman wields His knife, separating joints from marrow, dealing with my thoughts and intentions, making me beautiful and able to run the race strong and to the end.
At the end of Jesus' fast in the wilderness, angels attended Him. Today I wondered and prayerfully asked if the same will be true for me, will angels come to my side and bind me up? I think I hear His answer clear on this one: "No, it is my job to bind up the brokenhearted. No, my angels are not attending your side during this season of testing... I am.
I am restoring your soul.