I love when God works in ways that we aren't expecting. I mean, it's a great feeling to see the reward that comes from successfully completing a God given task, but have you ever received God's favor in a failure?
In preparation for my birthday project I felt God calling me to fast. This was significant to me because I've never actually fasted before. In fact, fasting has always been something of a mystery to me. By no coincidence I am sure, it had been the topic for my bible study a few weeks prior and though I left with a greater appreciation for the benefits of fasting, there was a lot of things that I still wasn't clear on. I admit that I was a little hesitant to be obedient at first, but once I committed to trusting God on this adventure I was pumped! Now, I'm sure my inexperience with fasting played into this greatly, but my expectations were pretty high. I was going to dive head first into this and be the best darn fasting woman there ever was! I knew that it wouldn't be all roses, but surely God was going to take it easy on me my first time. I prepared myself to pray through the hunger and to maintain focused on receiving God's guidance in regards to my project. It was going to be an AWESOME day of closeness between The Big Guy and I!
I woke up and was not the least bit hungry, SCORE! I prayed a little and then went about the usual business of my day. By around 10am I was really feeling the effects of missing my morning coffee. I was groggy and starting to get a bit of a headache. I prayed and pushed through, trusting that God would do away with that icky feeling. By lunchtime it was much worse. I was beginning to get cranky and felt the brainfog really set in. This was pretty upsetting to me because there have been PLENTY of days that I have missed breakfast and my coffee and I had never felt like THIS. Why today?? I felt horrible for my grumpy attitude towards my son and began to rationalize that maybe coffee didn't count in fasting. Maybe God wouldn't mind if I just had one cup to take the edge off. I decided that I would be cheating and prayed that God would take the crankiness and headache away.
He did not. 2pm rolled around and I felt like a maniac! I was trying to get my house ready for the guests I was having that evening, getting supplies together for my project, and trying to organize the next day in my mind. My mind that was now merely a dense fog wrapped in a massive headache. I felt out of control and I began to cry... for my coffee! It was at that point that I heard God's gentle reprimand, "How spoiled you are." Say what!? Did God, who I was hoping to spend a day of special closeness with, just call me SPOILED!? He sure did, and He was right. I don't think we expect God to say things to us that we view as negative, but let me tell you He is not afraid to call a spade a spade. He wasn't judging me or talking down to me, merely stating a fact. I was completely spoiled! Here I was preparing to take food and basic necessities to people who go without them on a daily basis and I was CRYING because I didn't have my morning coffee, by choice! If that's not spoiled I'm not sure what is.
I expected that my big "Aha moment" meant that the rest of the day would be easier, but I was wrong. I literally began to feel sick. My body ached, my throat was hurting, and I couldn't even put a complete sentence together. I held out an entire HOUR more before I sat down at the kitchen table and cried while I inhaled a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and pounded a cup of coffee. I immediately felt the physical relief, but my heart hurt.
I had failed. The fast had been broken and I'm not going to lie, so had I. I really struggled with this failure for a couple of days before God revealed some things to me. He didn't see my broken fast as a failure at all. In fact, I believe it went exactly as He had planned. I went into the fast with high expectations... for myself. I was going to rock at fasting! Here I was praying to be decreased so that God would be increased and I was being proud. I was proud of my obedience and that I was doing something I viewed as a big deal. I felt pretty impressed with myself. While I was fasting with expectation that God would reveal His plan for my project, His plan was simply for me to be humbled. Let me tell you, there is no way to feel impressed with yourself while you are bawling with a face full of PB&J.
My failure was ultimately His success and for that I am blessed. Not only did I leave this experience with a more humble heart, I left with a greater appreciation for the bigger picture. Sometimes we get caught up in our failures and we let them diminish what God is really doing. Sometimes what we see as our failures are really some of His great successes.