EDIT: MP3 link appears to be working now.
I’d have to search to find the exact day, but I’m somewhere near a 10 year anniversary of the beginning of a 40 day fast that changed the trajectory of our lives.
I’ve told most of these stories in other places so I won’t get into the nitty gritty, but ten years ago, Kelsey and I were church planting in Ohio. At the time, it was the most intense, challenging thing we’d ever done. That was more connected to our lack of experience than the actual task at hand – church planting is always difficult but the Lord blessed us with an amazing core team that, even though things didn’t turn out like any of us expected, remained Godly and loving throughout the entire experience. Never before were clueless leaders ever treated with such kindness.
In 2000, We’d never heard of Lou Engle, but Kelsey was at a conference in Nashville where she heard him speak. He was stumping for TheCall DC, to be held that September. Part of his presentation was passionately juxtaposing TheCall DC with an event in the desert called Burning Man. His message of prayer, fasting and repentance struck us to the core and we immediately made plans to attend the event.
The plans were of God, but as is so often the case, His plan reveals itself in increments. Another piece of the plan fell into place as we pondered TheCall over pizza with Steve and Janie Sjogren, friends who I’ve grown to count on to throw a wrench in the gears for me on occasion.
I won’t tell the whole story of the Burning Man trip here. It’s better heard than written anyway, and my best telling of it is probably found via MP3 from a leaders’ conference a few years back in Ohio.
Anyway, knowing we were attending the event – and being freaked out beyond imagination – we decided to do something we’ve never done….a 40 day fast. Along with another couple, we vowed to eat small portions of veggies 3 days a week, alternating with 3 days of only juice, and nothing on the 7th day except for water. I realize to fasting purists, this is probably the dumbest thing possible – we radically limited our calories while failing to allow our metabolism to actually slow down, meaning we never got to the “not hungry” state. I think I dropped nearly twenty pounds….at a time when I didn’t have it to spare. I remember a few things vividly…
- By day 10 with few calories and no coffees, I’d taken to inserting the word ‘insipid’ every time I referred to tea.
- By day 20 I was cold all the time. Even when it was 100 degrees outside.
- About day 25, it felt like heaven opened over the four of us. After twenty five days of nightly times of prayer that were dead as a door hinge, the Spirit visited us and continued to do so for the duration
It was about then that our life tilted. Burning Man and TheCall were both more than I could have hoped for. We had remarkable favor in the desert and another remarkable visitation of the Spirit on the National mall. Even so, I would have never guessed that ten years after that summer…
I would have never guessed I would still be bald. I shaved my head on a lark, hours before climbing in the RV to drive across country to Burning Man. Ten years later, five of my seven children have never seen me with hair.
I would have never guessed I would become friends with key Burning Man leaders. I can’t explain this beyond God’s hand. I still chat regularly with some of them and have gone to San Francisco to connect.
I would have never guessed we would end up living in DC for the better part of 2005 with Lou and Therese Engle and I would, for a season, give direction to TheCall events. The radical, rocking prophet on the stage in front of 400,000 people in DC has become a dear part of our lives and now lives near us. Our younger kids don’t remember a time when this wasn’t so.
I would have never guessed we would end up a part of the prayer movement – something that was completely not on my grid in 2000 (although in true prophetic fashion, it was on Kelsey’s).
So here we are, ten years later. Ten years older. Ten years more fulfilled in living life without thought of turning back.
I gave serious thought to a series of blog posts talking about the ten years between now and then but just can’t bring myself to start what would end up being longer and more intricate than War and Peace.
Instead, maybe I’ll take questions. You’ve ever wondered, now’s the time. Use the comments section. I’ll do my best to answer them….
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