The Gentleness of God

As many of you know, I spent time running from God.  I had been so depressed for so long that I figured I had no chance of happiness with God, because He appeared to have no interest in healing me.  My conscious decision was to turn my back on God so I would have SOME chance of experiencing happiness, regardless of what God thought about it.

I stopped running almost a year ago.  When I returned to Him, I was cautious, cynical, and not very optimistic about what my life would be like.  I was closed up, suspicious of all Christians, and battling the shame of what I had done.

Mostly, I spent my time looking over my shoulder, waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I KNEW there was no way that a “mature” Christian who had done her best to walk away from God could possibly escape without some type of punishment from God.  So I was always jumpy, waiting for that “chastisement” to happen.

Things stayed pretty quiet.  I tried to get somewhat involved at church, but that’s kind of hard when you don’t trust people or want to have anything to do with them.  I just kept my head low in hopes of staying under the radar, so maybe God would forget I was even there.

Then, in September 2010, I was radically freed from an 8 year depression. The haze lifted, my suspicion and cynicism were gone, and my shame disappeared.  I began to laugh again, interact with people, take responsibility for things at church.  I started living again.

My church has a 21 day fast every January.  I’m a firm believer in the power of their fasting – it was how my husband prayed me back into fellowship with God and with him.  I just rarely fast – the last time I did it was 1998, I believe, for about 2 weeks.  This made me a little nervous.  Why?  Because everyone was excited about God revealing things to them during the fast.

Screeeeeeeech! (That was the sound of my spiritual wheels coming to an abrupt halt.)  Um, I’m trying to avoid any deep interaction with God.  I am trying to still stay under the radar.  If I get close to God, He is going to finally “get me back” for what I did.  I know I deserve the retribution; I simply don’t want to experience it.

And this is how I first approached this fast.  If I do this, God will start dealing with me about things I don’t want to deal with.  My past, my problems, my strongholds.  Yes, I would like to be free, but I expect that with problems of my magnitude, this was going to REALLY, really hurt.

But I thought about it a little more, and realized that, although the depression was gone, I still do not have complete peace.  There are strongholds and fears in my life that keep me up at night.  They force me to make emotional decisions instead of mental or spiritual decisions. They lay me open to satanic attack.  I decided that maybe I do want to have these things removed, and MAYBE, just maybe, it was worth dealing with whatever else God had in mind for me.

So I asked God what He wanted me to fast, and he made it clear to me.  Although everyone else is simply doing the Daniel Fast, He asked me to do something a bit more strict. You see, the Daniel Fast would be nothing for me.  I don’t have to ever have meat or leavened bread or added sugar.  I can create lots of really yummy dishes from that list of accepted ingredients.  And THAT is my problem.

He revealed to me that, for a lack of a better term, I was a pleasure addict.  And since I don’t have an addiction to drugs, alcohol or sex, I was feeding that addiction with pleasurable food.  He also made it clear that I was actually refusing to give up that addiction OUT OF REBELLION AGAINST HIM.

Now THAT knocked me for a loop! Although He said it very gently and without a hint of condemnation, I was blown away by that.  What do you mean I eat out of rebellion against You?  His answer: You have it in your head that I have not, do not, and will not meet your needs, and so every time you overeat or eat things you know you shouldn’t, you are saying (excuse my terminology here…), “Screw you, God.  You’re not doing anything to make me happy, so I’m going to have to make myself happy!”

Wow. I was stunned. That had never crossed my mind. And it saddened me. Because I realized that it was TRUE.   I had NEVER thought my eating was disobedience to God or rebellion.  But mine is.

He said that all of my other strongholds were based on this underlying problem.  I have resented God regarding the lack of happiness and pleasure in my life.  If I am not physically pursuing pleasure, I am constantly distracted by the thoughts about it.   And my thought-life, I am positive, is far from pleasing to God.

He also confirmed another thing I thought – 21 days will NOT be enough to exorcise the demons I have been entertaining. He’s calling me to a 40 day fast of nothing but raw vegetables, fruits, grains and organic plain yogurt. I can eat as much as I want – but He knows that won’t be a problem, because I get NO PLEASURE out of any of those foods.

I say all of this to share the most surprising thing of all.  God has not shown one iota of anger at me.  He has not been vindictive, or harsh.  Everything is said in love and with the greatest gentleness.  He wants me to be healed, and be truly happy, and He knows I can never reach that by myself.  He is willing to heal me, but it will require my obedience in order to receive it.

So if you are waiting for the other shoe to drop because of previous or present actions, I offer you hope.  God doesn’t hate you.  He doesn’t want to hurt you.  He wants to be back in a loving relationship with you.  And He wants to love on you.  Let Him.

Penny Haynes