Last January Pastor Randy brought up doing the Daniel Fast as a part of the 40 Days of Renewal. Stephanie and I were reluctant to participate being that we have two young boys in school, the meals would have to be carefully planned and finding the time would be very difficult as we both have full time jobs. Our schedule was absolutely full. There was zero time for this. Our bible reading time and prayer life were minimal at best. Mentally, we found every reason in the world not to do this. But being that the Lord laid this on our Pastor’s heart to bring this before the church, we decided to commit to it.
During the beginning, all we could think about was, "I could never give this up, I will never stop eating this or that, I can't, I can't, I can't..." After we began the fasting meals and making time for our daily bible readings, our flesh started to rise up. Stopping sugar and caffeine on a dime is not easy. This time of fasting revealed the sin in our lives of putting almost everything before God and only making time for Him when it was convenient for us. But it’s really neat that, in a moment of deep struggle, God revealed to us how He was with us the whole time. He never left us, He was always there. Over the first few days the scheduling conflicts began to ease up. We began watching less and less television and our bible reading and prayer time began to be a time of peace and quietness in the middle of a very loud world.
Initially, we thought we would only do this for ten days; but, the tenth night was on a Wednesday. Stephanie and I had already started talking about the coffee we were going to enjoy the next morning and the dinner we were going to have that evening. So, we left for church thinking this was going to be it. At church that night Pastor Randy got up at the closing of the service and stood before the church. I was totaling expecting routine and normal. But instead Pastor said out loud in front of everybody, “For all you ten-dayers out there, don’t stop, stay the course." I looked at Stephanie and thought yep, we're in this for the whole ride. 40 days is a long time, but after the service on the drive home the Holy Spirit really laid it out for me loud and clear. “This is what I want for you right now”. All those times I've heard our preacher say at the closing of service, “Hey, God is here, he is calling for you", it was never as real to me as it was that night.
The next few days were anything but routine for the Thompson's. I began feeling a deeper love and respect for my wife as I saw her cook those meals. The effort she put in, seeing her try as hard as she could to make sure we ate correctly. The lack of television and outside noise opened up so much more time with our boys. And best of all, our prayer life really began to kick into high gear. Really committing to reading God's word more than once a day gave us an inner peace and joy, which allowed our faith to really grow. When James said that if you'll draw near to God, he'll draw near to you, he really meant it. That was not a figure of speech or idle talk. That is the absolute truth.
Towards the end of the 40 days several things became evident to those around us. People at work would ask us why we were not eating out for lunch. This gave us a very easy opportunity to talk about how God was really working in our lives. It opened up conversations with co-workers who we would have never talked spiritual things with before. It really opened the door to give a testimony of God's grace, mercy and goodness. By eating healthy, reading and praying multiple times a day, and being obedient to stand in the will of God left us with such a feeling of assurance of our salvation. The talk with my friends at church was about so much more than football and the weather. We were all talking about what the Lord had done for us and how great God is. We were expressing our love for God and our love for each other with encouragement. We experienced God in a very real way those 40 days.
The 40 days of renewal left Stephanie and I with a willingness of being more than just a Christian who warmed a seat on Sunday morning. It left us with a desire to seek God's will, be obedient in it and be a witness to the salvation He provides and the love he gives. The love and grace of God had to be verbally and prayerfully expressed to those around us. It could not be kept in. It could not be shut up. It could not be hidden. I saw this in the people at our church. I saw this in the testimonies given and heard it at the door each Sunday. Even after the 40 days was over, Stephanie and I continue to read our bibles and pray together each morning. The positive impact it has made on our marriage is still being felt today.