Back in January, I completed the 21 day Daniel plan. ( not boasting. I promise I have a point) It was my first time, and it was terrific physically, mentally and spiritually; it was such a fantastic experience. Briefly, the Daniel fast is modelled round what Daniel did in the book of… You Guessed it DANIEL here is some references to the idea behind the plan. it’s not a diet its choice to sacrifice the little pleasure ( choice food) for the ultimate happiness (drawing closer to god)
““Please test us for ten days on a diet of vegetables and water,” Daniel said.” Daniel 1:12 NLT
“So after that, the attendant fed them only vegetables instead of the food and wine provided for the others.”
Daniel 1:16 NLT
“When this vision came to me, I, Daniel, had been in mourning for three whole weeks. All that time I had eaten no rich food. No meat or wine crossed my lips, and I used no fragrant lotions until those three weeks had passed.”
Daniel 10:2-3 NLT
Coming off the back of my non-stop sugar fest and Christmas and straight into the plan on New Year, I feel made it easier. I had overdosed my body entirely on all rich foods so I think I was totally ready for a break by the time I started the fast, to some extent you could say I sickened myself. When I started the plan, I was almost glad not to have sugar and dairy in my body. Within a few days, I began to notice the benefits of no longer having certain these things in my diet. Although withdrawal from these rich foods had left me with aches and pains, by the second week in I could really see the benefits from the change in lifestyle. On around day nineteen, I experienced a lot of stress because of various things that were going on out of my control. My body started craving sugar again and, although I never broke my plan,( check me right out, now I’m boasting) I could not wait to get off plan and get a big king size mars bar shoved down my throat.
Yeah! The Big Day arrived woke and thanked God for giving me the strength and for sustaining throughout the fast but let him know today on no uncertain terms I’d be filling up on all sorts of goodies, sugar and fat. but would make the same effort to connect with God. ( good girl eh?)
In the bathroom getting ready for the day and chattering away to myself( because let’s face it what perfectly sane and well grounded person doesn’t talk to themselves) I started thinking how great it was to be able to eat whatever I wanted.
Not that I couldn’t before, but it was my choice completely to follow the plan. Nobody forced me I had just taken a little prompt of the Holy Spirit at the start of the year.
In the Bathroom, as I was washing my face, I started to think that my skin had never looked so good as it had in the past couple of weeks, then pulling on my clothes the thought that my belly hasn’t been anywhere near as bloated as it usually would be. One by one I thought overall the benefits of the fast and how a day binge eating chocolate might affect all those benefits. I started to question, was a day eating my body weight in sugar going to be worth it?
I have a peg board in my living room, and the quote I wrote on it was, ‘just because you can doesn’t mean you should’. ( actually, now it is in the kitchen for obvious reasons) When I put the quote on my pegboard the genius behind it was. If my kids saw it enough, the question would imprint in their brains and always be in the back of their head when faced with hard decisions and temptations. All made sense to me. Seems like the only one benefiting from this marvellous pegboard scheme was yours truly. Would she practice what she preached?
Ah man!, This is only food right?! It’s not like I’m going out and murdering someone or like stealing the food. No!, and indeed binge eating chocolate for a day was not a sin ( well unless your on slimming world) so it wouldn’t be harmful to my relationship with God either so what’s this niggling feeling all about? But I knew why I was feeling this pang of conviction. It was more the mindset that came with it. It was the ‘I can, so I will” thinking. Which believe me when I say. In my lifetime this mindset has got me in more bother than enough. ( I know you think I would learn)
I feel for a lot of us this can be a little like our journey to faith. We binge on the world. We do what we want because we can. We sicken ourselves on an overdose of all the cheap thrills and boundary-free living that life offers us. Then it all gets a bit sickening we turn to God for rest. Our lives change for the better, and we start to notice the benefit immediately. We are so glad that we made the right decision to follow Christ, live our life this way. Then the enemy ups his game because he hates that we are following Jesus ( remember he hates God) the enemy keeps offering us the stuff of the world things that we think we desire, tempting us with more cheap thrills and lustful pleasures. At first, we are strong and determined, but after a while we get comfortable, or maybe things don’t go our way and start to crave the other things on offer. In our weakness, because we feel we are missing out. This is what we do. We say, “what if I just do that once?” “What if I just do that for a day?” We justify our actions with, “sure what harm would it do me?” “Who would know? Don’t I deserve a little treat?” Even though we know the harm that could do the potential consequences it could have, you allow the enemy to convince you somehow that you’re missing out. And because God has given us free will he is never going to knock that metaphoric mars bar out of our hands. Yes, he will use the Holy Spirit to guide us and keep us on track, but ultimately the decision is ours, and that’s why he equipped us with the spirit of self-control, and we get to ask ourselves, just because I can, does it mean that I should?
I love this word in the message translation 1 Corinthians 6;12. Just because something is
technically legal doesn’t mean that it’s spiritually appropriate. If I went around doing whatever I thought I could get by with, I’d be a slave to my whims.
Another translation says,
everything is permissible for me, but not everything is beneficial.
As a Christian, We are going to face many many opportunities to choose the worlds way or Gods way. There are many things that the world has to offer us, and there is no legalism in walking with Christ; God has allowed us free will. However, if we want to honour God and stay in his will so we can have the best life, there are choices we will have to make, temptations we will have to overcome, desires that we have to squash. we are not alone in this, God has given us the holy spirit to help us make the right choices.
““If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognise him. But you know him because he lives with you now and later will be in you.”
John 14:15-17 NLT
We should read our Bible every day. immersing ourselves of the truth of God’s word
“Oh, how I love your instructions! I think about them all day long. Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are my constant guide.”
Psalms 119:97-98 NLT
To help strengthen us, we can pray every day that God will give us the wisdom and strength to live our lives as pure and whole as possible as we can in the world around us.
Till next time