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A Sacrifice That Changes Everything   |   Marlin D. Harris

Welcome to our 31-Day Corporate Fast. 

In 1988, I was 15 years old, sitting on a plane flying from Oklahoma to Seoul, South Korea. I felt that I was leaving more than a country but leaving my entire concept of normalcy and certainty.  I was going from the world I knew to a world that I was completely unprepared to face.  My father had received military orders to move from Ft. Drum, New York, and for the next 3 years, live in Taegu, South Korea.  Now, this is not uncommon.  Military families travel across the globe to new duty stations all the time and often make wonderful and amazing memories and experiences while living in a foreign country.  But that was precisely the problem – we were certainly not a family, and this was most definitely not promising to be an amazing memory.  My stepmother was a non-functioning alcoholic, and my father was a functioning one.  I was placed in their home because my home of origin had become too unstable and abusive for me to live in.  I was traveling 5,000 miles away from what I had come to know as normal, with people that I had just met less than 9 months ago.  I sat on that plane believing that I was leaving one disaster and heading into another one.  Nothing could have convinced me that day that this one experience would have so deeply changed my life and so firmly established my faith and confidence in God.

I was on a plane traveling to an uncertain future, sacrificing a deeply unhappy past.  This was the longest plane ride of my life, not in terms of hours, but in terms of pain.  The only peace that I could experience was the peace that came from this intensely personal and passionate relationship that I was developing with God.  Somehow, this plane ride was a Gethsemane that was building in me a resolve to submit to God’s will even if I neither understood it, nor felt that I had the courage to obey it.  I was sacrificing the familiar for the uncertain and learning to unreservedly trust God in the process. 

Few events in my life have defined my life more than both that plane ride and those next 3 years.  The entire trajectory of my ministry would be shaped by the world that plane ride opened for me.  I would learn what authentic faith and trust in God looked like, and what it meant to be a follower of Jesus Christ.  I was introduced to Missions work in a rural countryside context to people who were deeply impoverished, far from God, and at best, atheistic in terms of faith. My notions of religion and Christianity were challenged, and my own convictions of who Jesus was, and what Jesus did, expanded and enriched in ways I would have never known possible had I not boarded that plane.  I met authentic Christians who were all trying to figure out their faith in the context of their life’s experiences, and I saw God in the life of others in ways that I had never seen before.  My home life was as tumultuous and dysfunctional as one could imagine, but somehow, God used that season of dysfunction to bring me closer to God.  I now had a faith and conviction that was built on experience, rather than cultural theories.  All of this was possible because I was willing to make a sacrifice and get on that plane. 

Well, that is what fasting is all about.  It is all about sacrifice.  Fasting is not a religious discipline that yields some automatic, magical result.  It is not a practice that is designed to make you feel more spiritual, or more devout in your faith.  Fasting is simply and purely about harnessing the value and power of making a sacrifice.  Sacrificing the normal for the extraordinary, the mundane for the uncertain, the predictable for the uncharted territories of the providence of God.  Fasting is simply – yet profoundly – the internal practice of sacrifice.  That plane ride in that fateful season of my life was, for me, a symbolic fast.  I was fasting my familiar experience for an adventure with God.  This is precisely what we are inviting you to do over the next 31 days. 

We are inviting you into an adventure with God.  An experience with His providence and glory that only comes to the person who is humbled and trusting enough to walk into the darkness of uncertainty in search of the light of His perfect will.  For some of us, this fast will involve food as a small symbol of our heart's desire for God.  For others of us, this fast will involve time, comforts or entertainment, and leisure activities.  Some of us will fast our sleep and rise from bed earlier than normal to spend dedicated time with God.  Others of us will find ourselves disconnecting from the social distractions that hinder us from being aware of the presence of God.  Whether you are fasting food, or your phone, my challenge to you over the next month is to embrace the power of sacrifice.  Indulge in the wonder of undistracted time with God.  God is waiting for you to meet with Him.  Each time He desires to sit with us, our flesh somehow crowds out the thought of Him, and the Holy Spirit is left, bereft of the opportunity to quietly speak His peace and grace to our hearts.  Then we forge out into the world of busyness and deadlines and leave the precious power of the Spirit waiting alone at the meeting place we neglected to visit.  This fast is meant to be a Divine Stop!  It is meant to arrest our attention and call us into the stillness of the presence of God – a presence only accessed by sacrifice. 

So, we invite you for the next 31 days to board your own personal plane of sacrifice and take a fasting journey into the unknown with God.  I promise you that you will be amazed at the wonders that lie ahead if you would only be willing to make this sacrifice.  God has so much more in store for you, but the way to access it is through sacrificing the flesh and unleashing the power of the Spirit.

When fasting it is important to remember:

  • Fasting is not so much about food as it is about focus.
  • Fasting is not so much about saying no to the body as it is about saying YES to the Spirit.
  • Fasting is not about going without, it is about looking within.
  • Fasting is an outward response to an inward cry of the soul.