The Bible tells us that all have sinned and gone their own way. No matter how far you’ve gone in the wrong direction, however, when you turn around God always welcomes you back. Are you living beyond your means? Have you given in to the world of internet pornography? Maybe you’re failing your wife and kids, crushing them with your anger or solitude. Is your free time filled with television or video games?
God is ready to welcome you back. His arms are open, and his promises are sure–he will transform your worst failures into a blessed future, if you’ll ask him to.
There is hope for you. God is gracious and will forgive you, no matter what you’ve done or failed to do. He will even turn your past around and create a new life’a life of hope, peace, and ongoing relationship with him. But you have to take the first step. It’s a paradox of our faith: seek God and He will find you! Whether it’s the first time you’ve sought Him or you have strayed over and over, He’s there with His arms wide open!
Do you feel like your being swallowed up by life? Fasting can be an effective means of keeping you from being consumed by your surroundings. Daniel’one of the leading Jewish young men taken into captivity by King Nebuchadnezzar’undertook several disciplines in order to maintain his faith and identity. His decision to fast was one of the most visible ways by which he avoided being fully absorbed into that culture.
Daniel did something in particular that you might find helpful. He frequently practiced partial fasts in which he abstained from certain items but not from food altogether. A partial fast is a limitation of food or drink but not a complete abstention from them. A good way to develop the discipline of partial fasting is to begin with a fast from lunch one day to lunch the next. You can choose to give up soda or certain types of food you’d normally eat during this time. Instead of eating, take time to pray and read your Bible.
A normal fast can often be more disruptive to daily life’and that’s a good thing at times. But at other times you may sense the need to support your prayers or spiritual activities with fasting, but feel the need to sustain your food intake. In such times, you may give up certain items’and these don’t have to be limited to food. How about fasting from video games, Internet surfing, or television?
As you travel the long, difficult road that God’s calling you to walk, you must bear a cross. That cross represents the burdens you bear as a follower of Christ. But the way of the cross always leads to resurrection and a new life.
As God leads you to do his will you may wish there were some other way. You may feel fear, a lack of confidence, deep anguish, and a host of other emotions that threaten to stop you in your tracks. Regardless of your feelings, you mustn’t let them cause you to turn away from the path God sets before you.
Jesus understands your fears and your struggle to persevere. He had similar emotions. The night he was arrested, he cried out, ‘My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death’ (Matthew 26:38). He wondered if there was some other way and prayed three times for the suffering to be taken away, if possible. But he always ended his prayer, ‘Yet I want your will, not mine’ (Matthew 26:39). Jesus found the grace to accept God’s plan.
You may be overwhelmed as you consider the cross you’ll have to bear on the way to a new life. But during such times of struggle, you can go to Jesus for encouragement and express your deepest emotions. As you cry out for help, you can be confident that you will be given the strength you need to do God’s will rather than your own.