It’s been a little cray-cray in the Rutledge house over the last week. (For those not fortunate enough to have teens in the house, cray-cray means crazy. You’re welcome.)
The kids started back to school, way too early but I won’t even go there! The house is “decorated” like an office supply store with stacks of notebooks, folders, etc, etc stacked on every available surface. Then we have these piles of laundry that aren’t making it to their proper destination. Apparently the ability to move clothes from the floor to the laundry room becomes an impossible feat when one returns to school. Beds aren’t being made either because you know they just don’t have those precious moments to spare in the morning! It’s either brush the teeth or do their chores and proper hygiene trumps cleanliness. To further complicate things, we’ve all been trying to get acclimated to our jam packed schedules for the Fall without losing our minds and it’s proving to be a bit more challenging than I had anticipated.
So yesterday I got stuff done & quite frankly I was feeling pretty dang good about myself. I was a baking, cooking, cleaning, clothes washing machine. I channeled my inner Martha Stewart & Betty Crocker simultaneously so you can just imagine the level of fabulous at which I was operating. Then evening hit and all that multi-tasking mojo left the scene. I did manage to get the kids to church but I had missed an errand or two that needed to be done prior to the start of today, so drop and go was the theme for the night. Miraculously, I made it back in time to pick them up and was chatting with another mom, that’s when it happened.
I had completely forgotten that our church started 21 days of fasting and prayer on Sunday. You guessed it, hadn’t fasted a thing and this innocent conversation with a friend made me sick to my stomach. In all the busyness, I’d neglected something important. All my feelings of “yay me” vanished faster than the banana bread I’d whipped up earlier that day.
Last night I lay in bed frantically racking my brain, trying to think of what to give up and what specific prayer to focus on for the remainder of the time. I was feeling incredibly guilty about my forgetfulness to the point that it was distracting. I felt the nudge of the Holy Spirit and was reminded that this was not what a time of fasting is to be about. God can see straight to my heart and it was obvious that I was being driven by guilt and not a desire to hear from Him.
Discipline received, moving on.
My time of fasting and prayer will not be wasted feeling like a bad Christian because I missed the “start” date. The entire point of this exercise is to draw closer to God and make prayer a priority not to berate oneself for missing the mark. There’s no room for guilt in a heart that longs to serve a loving God.
Prayers for my friends as we go through this together, focusing on our deepest needs and waiting expectantly to hear a response.
“We have fasted before you!’ they say. ‘Why aren’t you impressed? We have been very hard on ourselves, and you don’t even notice it!” “I will tell you why!” I responded. “It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves. Even while you fast, you keep oppressing your workers. What good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarreling? This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with me. You humble yourselves by going through the motions of penance, bowing your heads like reeds bending in the wind. You dress in burlap, and cover yourselves with ashes. Is this what you call fasting? Do you really think this will please the Lord? No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind. Then when you call, the Lord will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply. “
(Isaiah 58:3-9 NLT)