“What if I stumble, what if I fall?”
“What if I mess up and eat something not on my plan?”
“What if I just can’t go without something—like caffeine—as I had planned to?”
“Will God still honor my fast?”
I remember the time a few years ago when someone asked me if I had ever “messed up” on a fast. I had to laugh because, of course, the answer was a huge yes. It has actually taken me years of developing a lifestyle of fasting to build up to where I am now. Over time, fasting does get easier, but this is a spiritual activity where it’s easy for condemnation to try and take root. Don’t let that happen!
Choosing to start a fast is quite similar to setting goals in life. It is good for us to challenge ourselves and set the bar high. Each time I prepare for a fast, I set goals that are typically beyond what I did the last time, and they’re always beyond what I know I can do in my own strength. When we set the bar high, sometimes the natural result is failure to meet the goal. But that should never stop us from trying to reach as high as we can.
So what if you mess up? What should you do then? Proverbs 24:16 says, “For though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity” (NIV).
This “fall down, get back up” idea has been a formative principle in my life in so many areas, and it’s no different in the arena of devotion to God. What matters is not that we stumble, but that we get back up! True failure only occurs when we let adversity keep us down.
Maybe you have tried to participate in this fast but have found yourself stumbling along the way. I want to encourage you to try it again during this last week. Don’t be discouraged by looking at the times you gave in to hunger or messed up. But be encouraged by this: when we draw near to God, He draws near to us (James 4:8). He wants to draw near to you, so keep it up! I am confident that you will be rewarded and blessed for your perseverance.