I was invited to join my sister on a fast in March 2015 for the entire month of April. The challenge was to abstain from television and social media for one month. Social media didn't present a huge challenge for me because it had not been apart of my life for very long, (don’t get me wrong, it's still highly addictive), but TV happened to be a close personal friend that I wasn't sure I could part with so easily.
I was longing for more spiritually so I was up for the challenge, but I wasn't sure I possessed the willpower to fast and then I started to wonder whether fasting was something God wanted me to do. After all, he knew how I felt about fasting and if I'm honest I never really got the point of giving up something for more God. I grew up in church, but I never saw the benefit of starving myself or going without something for more of his presence. I never witnessed any power from from fasting, but what I did see was a bunch of hungry people doing something because the church called for it and I always thought “I’m hungry, I need to eat. I’ll pass."
As the days of March (and my days of binge television watching) were drawing to an end, I really began to seek God and ask him for a sign that a fast was necessary for me.
During that time, I had the privilege of joining a bible study full of God-fearing women and after reading a chapter in a book we were studying at the time, the author spoke about a time when God called her to fast from television for TWO years!!! I don't believe my encounter with this material was coincidence, so of course I prayed and prayed some more just to be sure that God knew what the gravity of what the spirit was prompting me to do. After one more, "Yes, Meisha this is something I want you to do" from God the fast was no longer an invitation from my sister, but an invitation from God to be obedient to something that he was really asking of me.
March came and went, and April was knocking at my door like opportunity and I said "Ok God, reveal yourself to me, allow me to experience you in a way that I've always heard but never have.” After all, I had never fasted for more than twenty-four hours in my twenty-eight-year lifespan. I started off the fast by reading five Psalms a day plus one Proverb. The very first day, I read Psalms 1:1-3 "Blessed is the one…whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers." I thought that was a direct from the Holy Spirit and a perfect way to start my first real fast.
As I read through the book of Psalms, it wasn’t clicking and I felt like I was only reading because I was challenged to and that’s not what I wanted this time. I didn’t merely want to read the word for the sake of saying “I’ve read five Psalms today, Yay Me!” I really wanted to hear from God and for the words that I read to make sense. As I continued to read and seek God for understanding and revelation, I began to understand him a little better. He was slowly becoming—as David so eloquently wrote—My Shepherd. He wasn’t all the negative adjectives that I had come to associate with him over the years. This new revelation of God led me to want to get to know him more and beyond that, learn how he wanted me to live.
I began listening to tons of podcasts and bible studies from popular teachers and preachers; the words that I heard were really starting to resonate with me. And of course the enemy tried to come in and undo all of that. One day, I was overwhelmed with emotion and bad thoughts so I turned on one of my favorite Christian leaders Joyce Meyer and started listening to her Enjoying Everyday Life Podcast. She was teaching a series titled "Who is God” and she started the session by asking “How do you feel about yourself?” I struggled with answering that question. As she kept teaching, I felt as if she was speaking directly to me. She spoke about how important it is for me to love myself and that the way I view myself is more important than anyone else’s view of me. She taught that it’s not necessary to personally inventory my faults, because God will deal with me in every area of my life as he sees fit. She also touched on the importance of not comparing myself to other people. The bottom line was this: It’s imperative to know what God’s word says about you and at that time I really wasn’t sure what that was.
I was bullied a lot as a child (kids are cruel) and teased quite a bit about various things—mainly my looks and abilities. I carried a lot of that throughout my life and it caused me to become very insecure, doubtful, and fearful. I wasn’t good at expressing my feelings so I put up walls, became a loner, and shut people out. I always kept a smile, but I was dying on the inside. I had developed a very unhealthy attitude toward myself. Instead of believing God’s word, I believed my peers and their lies became my truth, but that day during that podcast God spoke to me through Joyce and I finally started to feel like I could be free from the shame of an insecurity-filled life. I started looking up scriptures to help build my confidence and self-esteem.
The first scripture that I was led to was 1st Peter 2:9-10 “You are a chosen [woman], a royal [priest], a holy [daughter], God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. That scripture means so much to me because even when every one else rejected me, I know that God still chose ME. I was then led to Deuteronomy 33:12 “Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders.” That’s another great scripture that shows me I don’t have to carry insecurity with me ever again.
As I continued to search through scripture, I came across Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” I made these scriptures my daily confessions. I wrote them down, taped them around the house, and God began to heal me. As I began to see the word come alive in my life, my desire to know God grew even more—so I kept studying and seeking him.
God was leading me to the most amazing teachings and bible studies; I began to get so encouraged by reading and listening to the word. At times, I still felt like my days hadn't changed much and that I was just squeezing God in where I could and that’s not what I wanted. To top that off, the tug to watch television began to get so strong, I thought I was just going to break down and watch an episode of The Real Daytime Talk Show (one of my favorite shows at the time.) That's when I discovered Francis Chan and found one of his many bible study teachings. Chan is the author of a book entitled "Crazy Love.” I watched the bible study series and the very first lesson was titled Stop Praying. Chan calls people to stop praying because he believes that we can get into a routine of praying the same prayers to God over and over without taking a moment to think about who we are really praying to. Watching that bible study led me to purchase the book and in the first chapter he directs the reader to watch a video that's called "The Awe Factor of God," which is an illustration of the billions of galaxies God created. Using the technology of the Hubble Telescope, you’re able to see how our milky way galaxy becomes a tiny speck after you zoom out about ten light years. It was MIND-BLOWING. I’d never been introduced to God in that way before and after watching that I literally could not pray. I began to think "God, you’re too awesome, too majestic, too powerful. How do I pray to a God like you? I have no words," so I was silent for nearly two days.
On the second night of those two days, I was restless and could not sleep. I had previously set my alarm for 7 a.m. the next day because I was encouraged to start a new chapter in my fast, which was to spend time with God at the start of my day. I was starting to learn so much about God and I didn’t want to keep squeezing him in like I had been doing. I was reluctant to wake up before my daughter though and I figured I deserved to rest because I missed out on so much sleep in the months prior being a new mom.
My alarm was set so there was no need to wake up before then. As I tossed and turned, I quietly asked God “Why won’t you let me sleep?” I didn’t hear anything so I laid in bed for another fifteen or twenty minutes. Since I couldn’t find peace as I tried to rest, I decided to get out of bed. I started my devotional and read the bible and as I read I was able to find some words to pray and I simply thanked God for being who he is. When I opened my eyes, the clock read 7:05 a.m.—my alarm was never going to go off that morning because it was set for the next day.
That may not be a big deal to some people but my mouth dropped instantly. I knew that was God. I became overwhelmed with a feeling of joy that was nothing like I had ever experienced. I walked to the window to gaze at the sunrise and was floored that the God who created that beautiful sunrise, the heavens, the earth, and the billions of galaxies in between, saw fit to wake me up that morning to spend time with him. He wanted me. I was broken and that moment moved me to worship our awesome, Holy, and Majestic Creator. I had never experienced God’s realness in that way. That morning I knew without a shadow of a doubt that God was real and that the Creator of the universe really loves and cares for me—FOR ME. I get so emotional when I think about that encounter with God because for the first time in my life, I truly felt God’s presence and his embrace. It’s like he was in the room, right beside me, smiling at me.
That was my AHA moment. For so many years, I learned about God through what he had done for others, but now I’ve had my own experience with him. I’ve discovered that’s what God does, he shows up in ways that leave you speechless, but at the same time makes you want to go tell it on the mountain! He took this very broken little girl, and gave me hope as a woman of God. The bible says that the Lord will give us the desires of our heart if we delight ourselves and him. My only desire for my fast was to experience God and feel his presence in my life and he graciously gave me that. He showed me that he still wants to use me for his glory and because I know that God is with me, I can boldly confess his word because I now have full confidence in him—the author and finisher of my faith. I’ve now gotten to the point where it’s a necessity for me to wake up and spend time with God; my days aren’t the same when I don't. I desperately want and need to live a life that’s pleasing to him. I carried so many bad things in me, but that’s ok because God is my redeemer and he lives. His love and compassion for me is great and I know that he is always with me. Now, it’s so hard for me to be my old self.
My husband told me that he had been encouraged and inspired by the change he started to see in me which is crazy because he had always been the person I looked to for spiritual inspiration. When he was telling me this, he referenced Proverbs 27:17, "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." Again, God had blown me away. I never imagined that I could be used as the iron to sharpen the faith of my husband. I’ve struggled so much in my faith and in life in general. I was hopeless, but now God is using me? It was so amazing to witness the transformation of my husband as an even stronger follower of Christ and God did that through me, a woman who had gone from not really knowing who God is to talking about him all day long.
I used to hear people say, “If God never does another thing for me, I’ll praise Him anyhow, because he’s been that good.” I never understood that, but now I do. It’s so funny because I ran from God for the first twenty-eight years of my life and he waited for me. He knew I’d run and try to put distance between us and he still never let me go. Wow. I’ll never forget how fasting changed my life and that now marks my re-dedication to Christ, and I am forever changed.
Never forget, that what the devil meant for evil, God will always use it for your good.