• Dana L. Butler

Why This Year’s Daniel Fast Was So Different [or… "Warning: Crazy Undignified Grati

I’ve mentioned recently that our church concluded a 21-day Daniel Fast this past Sunday.  This is something we do as a church family near the beginning of every year.  It sharpens our focus, reminds us of priorities, increases our unity as a church family, and is just generally a phenomenal way to start out a year. In years past, I’ve participated in the Daniel Fast very, very willingly, wanting to be in unity with our church fam, and I’ve been consistent about intentionally seeking the Lord during that time, asking Him for specific, practical things, along with things that I’ve wanted Him to do in my own heart.  It’s always been a really good experience for me. But this year, there was something very different about these three weeks for me.  Leading up to the fast, I was EXCITED about it.  Not dreading giving up a lot of the foods that I enjoy, not begrudging, but really, genuinely excited. During the fast, I’d be lying if I said there weren’t moments that I craved heavy whipping cream in my coffee or dessert after dinner… or MEAT…. BUT…. the entirety of the fast proved to be significantly easier for me than it has been in years past.  And coming OFF of the fast these last couple of days has been very interesting.  I’ve enjoyed pizza and french fries and cheesecake and cream in my coffee… But I haven’t found myself NEEDing them, or even being ALL that excited about them. Interesting. What’s changed in my heart?  I mentioned  in my last post that in this season of my life the Lord has brought a sharpness, an alertness to my spirit that I maybe have never experienced before.  He has increased my awareness of His presence and activity in my life.  There’s a fire of desire for Him in my heart that’s grown to a level of intensity and purity that I’ve never experienced, in the entirety of my walk with Him.  I’ve been intentional to cultivate this in this season.  I’ve been wrecked by His love like I’ve never been before. I’ve been undone by the ridiculously scandalous GOODNESS of the Gospel, the finished work of the cross, all that Jesus purchased for us there.  Oh my goodness, the Gospel IS SO CRAZY GOOD!!! And the level to which God has just wrecked me and undone me and WON me with these revelations of His love and His pursuit of my heart… it begs the question… WHAT SACRIFICE?!?! WHAT?!  Jesus, you want my obedience and surrender?!  OKAY!  YES, LORD!!  What other response could I possibly have to the goodness of this Gospel?!   What?  A 21-day Daniel fast?  DONE!  YES to reigning in my flesh, choosing to channel all my desires toward YOU and not let my heart run around looking for satisfaction in other places.  YES to choosing to live my entire life for Your glory!  The way You encounter me intimately and satisfy my heart as I choose You in the little things, the seemingly-insignificant-but-really-incredibly-significant moments of my day-to-day journey… You just make it all SO MUCH MORE THAN WORTH IT!! Oh my goodness, sometimes I feel so crazy these days… Like, so undone by how GOOD the Gospel is, how good HE is, how much insanely undeserved FREEDOM and wholeness and abundance He purchased for us on the cross… sometimes I feel SO UNDIGNIFIED.  And I do still struggle with the fear of man (though it’s diminishing steadily) so this is an interesting combo – this wild, untamed GRATITUDE and my little moments of (still) wondering what people will think if I just go nuts and ditch the microphone and keys and run a couple laps around the church during worship because I just can’t contain this crazy JOY anymore….???!!! But I digress. My entire point in all of this is that, when we really understand the goodness of the Gospel, how “we who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Eph 2:13), what it REALLY MEANS that we’ve been brought near to HIM…that the sovereign, all-powerful, terrifyingly holy CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE, He INTIMATELY knows MY HEART, YOUR HEART, and He’s made a way for us who were dead in our sin to be FULLY, CRAZY-ALIVE in Him and to live close to His heart, how His blood became our righteousness and purchased for us what we never could have attained on our own – right standing before our perfectly holy Father, completely clean, washed from our sin, made new….  How when God looks at us He sees us covered in the righteousness of Christ….  WHEN WE REALLY UNDERSTAND THIS GOSPEL, our obedience, our surrender, they’ll FLOW FREELY out of a heart that’s overwhelmed with gratitude and WHAT OTHER RESPONSE COULD WE POSSIBLY HAVE than to give Him our WHOLE. ENTIRE. LIVES?!?!  Okay.  Whew!  Deeeeep breaths, Dana. Um… I don’t know where to go from here.  I think I was trying to explain why this year’s Daniel Fast was so different for me from years past.  It’s the revelation of the goodness of the Gospel… how truly understanding what He’s done for us changes every. facet. of. my. life.  And how else can I respond but to completely lay my life down?  Fast?  Sacrifice?  WHAT SACRIFICE? To quote (again) the old Jason Upton song that I recently referenced in a devotional I wrote during our Daniel Fast…. “This is NO sacrifice; here’s my life!” Thanks, friends, for sharing in my wildness today. 🙂 Be blessed to know, really, deeply KNOW, the wild, unrestrained love of Your Father’s heart toward you today, friends… the ridiculous goodness of the GOSPEL. You’re so loved….


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