“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2).
Have you ever turned on a faucet that hasn’t been on and working for a long time? When the water pressure in the pipes builds up enough to push through that faucet, stuff will start spewing out. Stuff – not clean water. Trust me: you don’t want to drink that yet! So what do you do? Do you turn off the faucet and never use that sink again? You could, but that’s kind of a big waste. The better option is to turn on the faucet – turn it on all the way – and leave the water on and running. Eventually that nastiness backed up in the pipes and the faucet head will clean out, and you’ll have pure, clean water available.
So it is in our lives that we have to maintain our spiritual faucet. God has plenty of things He wants to teach us, and they’re ready and waiting in the pipes, but if the faucet is plugged up, nothing’s going to get through. There are so many things in our lives that get in our way and distract us from Jesus. We all know we ought to be praying, reading our Bibles, listening to sound council and doctrine, and even journaling. When you have down time, do you pull out your phone and tap the Bible app or Netflix? Have you ever shut down Snapchat and listened to a podcast of a sermon? I’m not saying you have to do this, but hear me out: sometimes it’s choosing what is better by giving up your favorite stuff. Stuff – not even bad stuff at times – becomes a distraction. An effective way to clean that out is to practice the spiritual discipline of fasting.
One of the most effective ways to detox your life is by fasting. Fasting is an intentional giving up of and going without something for a period of time. The point is to clear distractions out of the way and open yourself up to hearing God. So tomorrow morning, we’ll probe some thoughts on fasting.
I challenge you to choose something to fast in your life for a period of time. During the summer, fasts can be a great way to prepare yourself for an event – a mission trip or week at camp, for example.
In my own life, I’ve recently had a hard time hearing from God. I thought, maybe God doesn’t have any messages for me right now, but I’m finding myself in need of direction. Silence on the other end of my prayers gets old, but then I realized that I wasn’t giving God enough time to answer. I think I often pray like sending texts: just send it off so fast you don’t even have time to proof it before hitting Send, and then hope the recipient is available to answer soon. And if the answer isn’t soon enough, I can send off another obnoxious message. But God’s way of speaking isn’t just to shoot back a response in 140 characters or less. He responds in His time and in His way. So, in order to hear from God, I took my free time for a week and devoted it to seeking out God’s voice. It wasn’t easy; it was a super busy week, and I’m tired and grumpy, so it’s no fun to keep yourself from the habit of coming home to crash and veg on the couch with mindless entertainment until bedtime. I admit that my journaling is out of habit and that many entries are like that nasty water being flushed out of the pipes. Some mornings I sat with open pen and journal and thought, I can’t write today. And my mind kept wandering over to some of my favorite corners of pop culture that aren’t necessarily bad; they simply get in the way.
But God is faithful, and God is patient. Oh He is so patient. He could’ve said to me, “Since you can’t seem to make your mind stay focused on Me this morning, we’re done for the week. Try again later when you’re actually prepared to try.” I think God knows that we have to cleanse – “detox” – our lives of all of the clutter in the way. But like the crazy sugar cravings during the first few days of a detox consisting of a mysterious green powder mix drink, things get flushed out. And while I never got it perfect, God honored my attempts that week with a renewal of my mind. As I hauled my thoughts away from what’s popular and entertaining and pleasing and instead toward God, I found myself thinking new thoughts. Thoughts that bring life. Out of the blue, He gave me a group to pray with. And God has been giving me messages to blog. I still have much to learn, but I can hear from God more effectively without as much clutter in my life.