Sunday, April 27, 2014
After a couple years of marriage Michelle and I were ready to start a family. Month after month and year after year we were met with disappointment. Many of our friends and family were having children and although we were very excited for them, hope became the unintended victim of each celebration and a painful reminder that our celebration may never come. In the Christian and Jewish World View, God is the Creator of life. He ordains every living thing by the power of His love. When disappointment collided with my belief I questioned. "Is there something I have done to anger God?" "Perhaps If I was a better Christian then God would bless us with children." When prayers are answered with silence or with a "no", discouragement and doubt found fertile ground. 10 years into our marriage Michelle and I were quickly giving up hope for biological kids. We longed to have a family. We talked & prayed about God's plan for us including adoption or maybe the expensive medical solutions. Both were fiscally implausible. For two people who worked for ministry and lived paycheck to paycheck, extra money was difficult at best to come by.. We knew that if we were going to have children, whichever way He saw fit to bless us - if He chose to bless us with children - it would require something that I was running short of. "By faith Abraham, even though he was past age and Sarah herself was barren, was enabled to become a father because he considered Him faithful who made the promise." (Rom 11:11) Faith fiscally will cost you nothing however faith practically will cost you everything. Faith is the most powerful tool we possess. In it the hand of God is moved - or moreso it's us that moves closer to Him - and that our heart is more closely aligned with His. The disappointment, heartache and frustration grew, however it would soon meet it's demise as Michelle and I truly began to exercise our faith.
Michelle and I sat in a crowded Baptist Church attending a concert by Phil Keagy, Wes King, and Out of the Grey. About half-way through the concert Wes King stabbed us in the heart and exposed our open wounds for all in that Baptist Church to see. Wes had experienced the same storm of pain and frustration that we were weathering and the big jerk had to get up and sing a song about it. I rarely cry in public but when Wes King sang this song, all of the deep pain that Michelle and I privately bore burst forth from us like breaking dam. This was the first time we together publicly grieved over our circumstance. In the past I would hide behind a mask which hid my heart and denied me the chance to grieve. I pretended that I was strong, positive, and Christ-like. Inside I was broken and disappointed. Emotionally Michelle and I collapsed as the truth of the lyrics washed over our souls.
Wes King - Thought You'd Be Here
Michelle and I sobbed. To the point where those sitting around us we know were uncomfortable - it's like they had a front seat to us sitting at God's feet and losing it emotionally. We decided that night that we were going to lay aside all of our disappointment and anxiety and we would simply trust the Lord for whatever He desired to do in our lives. Once we surrendered to Him, all of the pressure and stress dissolved into a simple faith that God alone was enough and that His plan is best. In this quiet place, the Lord called us to lay aside plans of adoption and medical solutions. Michelle and I both wholeheartedly believe that both these options are often God's plan for creating families and they are an equally beautiful reflection of His love (after all the Bible declares that we have been adopted into His family) however we felt God saying to us to "lay aside all of your plans and trust Me." He would make it clear if we trusted, listened to and followed Him. I also felt the Lord calling us to a life of gratitude. Instead of complaining and being disappointed I felt the Lord telling us to be thankful and worshipful.
Several months after the concert I felt led to fast. At this time in my life I hated fasting. After going without food for one day I was done. I felt the Lord calling me to do something crazy. I believe He was asking me to go on a fast of gratitude and to do so for 40 days. Such a fast was absolutely unthinkable to me. 40 days was the stuff of Bible heroes and religious nut jobs. In the past I fasted for a day or so for specific answers to prayer, but this fast God was calling me to seemed counter intuitive. If I was going to fast why not fast for world piece or an end to world hunger. I felt God saying to me "I know your hearts' desires, trust me to take care of you." This would require full and complete dependence on Him, and this was the lesson that the Good Teacher desired me to learn.
I began my 40 day fast in early January of 2000. I was afraid that I would give into my hunger a few days in. However I noticed in my gratitude fast that the more I participated in gratitude and worship, the less I focused on my hunger. I found that the longing of my heart was an unquenchable fire for relationship with my Creator. The deeper I dug into relationship with God, the greater my hunger became for Him, which in turn decreased my physical hunger. Day after day I found God more than sufficient in meeting my physical needs. As I trusted in Him for the physical strength to endure, I found myself longing to give the Lord my heart in gratitude.
20 days into my fast I went for a run after work. When I arrived home I noticed a strange envelope in our mail on the kitchen counter. My wife was sitting on the floor coloring in a color book. I asked her if she knew what the envelope was. She said "open it up and find out." It was a card with a baby elephant and a Daddy elephant, and it read "Hey Daddy! Guess Who?
I was so confused. Huh? What is this. And then - I look at Michelle in absolute disbelief - the question didn't want to leave my tongue "Are you pregnant?" I finally ask. "YES!!!" she replies. I was so excited that I tackled Michelle! "You're pregnant?" I shouted in disbelief. "YES" Michelle said. Then I realized that I had just tackled a pregnant woman. "Are you ok? Did I hurt you? Is the baby ok?" My fatherly protective instinct was already in high gear. Several months earlier we sobbed tears of disappointment and now we sobbed tears of unspeakable joy. We pulled ourselves together and with tearful words of gratitude we gave thanks to the Lord. I imagine that the Lord was present in our joyous celebration, smiling, laughing, crying, rejoicing along with us. The years of disappointment and frustration dissolved into the love of my Father. The remaining 20 days of my gratitude fast was absolutely amazing. Gratitude oozed from my whole being and the days flew by like a whisper.
I promised the Lord that every year I would go on a gratitude fast. I have been true to that promise. Some fasts have lasted 20 days, while many have been 40. It was at the end of a 30 day fast in 2002 that we learned that God would bless us with another child. I believe that God was and is teaching Michelle and I dependence on Him.
If you read my blogs you know that I'm a sinner just like everyone. I never speak publicly about fasting because I'm fearful others might consider me something I'm not. I look forward to my yearly gratitude fast for in it I find what my heart longs for.
My hope is that perhaps, just as I have found, you'll realize the best stories point to God and that you too will be a part of His story. Michelle and I would honor the chance to pray for you as you discover that God alone is enough. Please post your prayer and we will join you in the journey.
Kaylee "Janae" means God has answered. Stevey Wonders at the God of Wonder.