Friday, July 11, 2008

Day Forty: Can You Believe It?

Astonishing, right? Didn't the finish line of our 40 Days seem a million miles away? And yet here we are.

Do you know what this means? It means that we've accomplished something. We may have done it gracefully on some days and grudgingly on others, but that doesn't matter. Every prayer we offered or tossed or flung violently up to God, he heard. And he loves us. And he's working our lives for good, according to his plan. Which is better than our definition. This is no small matter. Come tomorrow, my friends, it's time to celebrate :)

I want to offer you two scenarios for how tomorrow could go, so that we can make some choices ahead of time.

Scenario #1: You wake up, realize that the 40 Days are over, and see no evidence that God was even paying attention. You feel a knot of despair wrap around your insides. You check this website repeatedly, hoping for some extension plan or caveat, then decide that you hate us all because we've abandoned you (and gone off to live our perfect, every-prayer-answered-as-if-by-special-delivery, lives). You decide to extend your fast...maybe if you give up more, for longer, God might listen? You fall into bed tomorrow night feeling sad and alone.

You might guess that I'm not a fan of this one! That's why I'm bringing it up in advance. There will be temptation to go this route, to doubt whether this little experiment was anything other than a new way to see our hopes dashed. The Apostle Peter warned us that Evil roams about like a roaring lion, looking to destroy us. Scenario #1 is an example of what that could look like. But Paul makes the fine point that if we resist the devil, he must flee from us. That's the true meaning behind all those "Jesus is my homeboy" t-shirts: if we're down with Jesus, Evil can't hijack our thoughts. But he can try.

What to do? It helps to have a plan. I present this for your consideration:

Scenario #2: You wake up tomorrow, and think, "This is the first day of the rest of my life! I wonder what God's gonna do?" Alongside your breakfast, you have a giant serving of whatever you were fasting from (presuming it was a food item) because hey--it's a celebration! All day long, as the thing you've been praying for comes to mind, you think, "Thank you God, that that's taken care of. You've heard my prayers and thank you in advance for the awesome ways you're answering. Thank you that you are working in places I cannot see, doing things beyond all I can ask or imagine. And thank you for all you're doing in me to make me ready. In Jesus' name, Amen..."

And you repeat as needed :)

Today's reading, the final two chapters in Acts, presents a vivid picture of what it can be like to walk in the newness God offers after a season of intense prayer. The scene where Paul is bitten by the poisonous viper is what I'm referring to. Everyone around him sees this deadly snake latch onto him and assumes it's divine retribution because Paul is a prisoner; they figure he must be a murderer who has it coming. And they're not wrong: Paul is a murderer. And yet he shakes the snake off like it's nothing. What's that about?

When we align our lives with Jesus, he makes us a new creation. The old things of our lives--our mistakes, our bad choices, the pain we've suffered from others--goes away. He takes those things, and leaves us clean and new. But it's not that the old stuff never comes back to bug us--sometimes it shows up like a slithery snake, trying to attach itself to us, poison us, and take us down. There may even be people around who think, "Well, she had it coming..." But we can shake it off like it's nothing. Because that's all it is.

Pretty cool, right? Good to remember :)

Do me a favor? ENJOY this last day of our 40 Days. And enjoy tomorrow even more. Make sure to break your fast in some way to officially close this season. And keep us posted about what God does! I'm expecting fabulous things, because we're praying to a fabulous God.

Many of you have asked about next steps for this blog, and I'll post something about that soon. I have some ideas, I just need to check in with God before announcing anything official. And I'll also have suggestions for reading, websites, etc. that I'll post once I'm back from vacation. But for now, let's finish strong today, and celebrate tomorrow. And the day after that...and the day after that.

Thank you for doing this with me. I love you guys, and everything God is doing in our lives. This has been an amazing experience....I suspect it's just the beginning.

Today's Song: Smellin' Coffee by Chris Rice. So funny, so good, so true.

Last thing I remember: sayin' bye to yesterday
Glad to see it over, pulling covers over my head
What were you doing, while I dreamt the night away?
Cause I can tell that some thing's different and my eyes ain't even open yet...


Gretchen said...

Okay, I'll admit to the bitter, "you perfect, every-prayer answered jerks!" attitude! Thanks for calling me on that and calling me to faith in God, not the prayer answers.

thanks, too, for doing this in this format! It's been a revealing time for me, and it's gone much better (with the exception of the last week) than it has in the past, primarily because I have more of a community around me via this blog who are willing to give it a shot and share where they are (good, bad, ugly, indifferent) with the whole process.

All in all, that coupled with reading both your book and "Not the Religious Type", have helped me grow in my understanding of who God is and how much I wasn't set up to believe in who He truly is.

Thanks, everybody, too! You've been a great source of keeping it real and yet having faith and not going down that bitter path. You guys rock!

Liza said...

Thanks for starting this blog Trish! I know I've changed over the 40 days, because I feel different than when we started. I'll miss not being with everyone each day, but am excited to see what God has planned for each of us in the future. I can't wait for the next steps in God's plan.

heiress said...

Today, I am so grateful to God that I was listening to Moody radio station and heard Trish talk about her book. And, I'm even more grateful that I went to her website and read about this 40 Days of Faith. And, I am doubly grateful that I did it.

I feel a sense of peace and accomplishment and I am so excited to see what God has in store for me. I know he has not only heard my prayer but he has answered it.

To everyone here, I have enjoyed sharing my time with all of you. Let's wake up tomorrow feeling like Scenario #2, we deserve it, we may have completed a long journey but the best is yet to come!

Psalm 27:13 "I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living."

the teacher said...

i do have faith that God is working in some way in all of our lives. we need to continue to be strong so that we can see that outcome.

thank you so much trish for taking all of the time that you did to be there for us.

tomorrow is...chocolate!!!

Kim said...

I am celebrating.

God hears our prayers. He answers them. He wants us to be happy and enjoy our lives. He is with us, always. He wants us to be with Him.

I knew all of this before the 40 days, but God knew I needed to hear it again. I can be pretty dense sometimes.

By taking a little time out of my day to read this blog, post, read the Bible, and pray in the morning (that one is still a bit tough. I am so NOT a morning person) God has given me great rewards. He gave me you beautiful people to go through it all with. If that is not a blessing, then what is?

Plus, and I am not going to down play this because, to me it was a miracle, He answered prayers of my heart. One desire I had been begging for for what? 10 years? 15? My whole life? He wanted me to announce His greatness and understand this was a gift from Him.

Other "out of my hands" challenges came up at the start of forty days. When I turned them over to Him and took a leap of faith that all would be well, it was. Better than well. Amazing. I think it was His intention to make sure I was paying attention. He proved this 40 days was important and life changing. Now it's my job to make sure it sticks.

Thank you Trish and everyone. Your honesty, faith, and kindness helped me through the 40 days.

I pray God will lead you all to great happiness and peace. I pray that He fills your hearts with hope and guides your feet down the best path for a joyful life. Most of all I wish you love.

Kwana said...

Thanks so much for this post and for starting this blog. I'll admit to pre-thinking about scenario number 1 but I'm not going to go there. Thanks for putting number 2 in my spirit and preparing me for tomorrow. Wonderful!

ForstRose said...

Thanks for doing this Trish and to everyone else that stuck in here with all of us for this time.

It's been interesting and there were things I needed to hear/read yet once again during this time.

At least God keeps after me, if I let Him, when I forget the truth I know or ignore something I don't want to admit is true because I simply don't like it.

I know He has used this time to grow me and I pray that continues and that the same is true for the rest of you as well. Regardless of our initial prayers and the answers or lack thereof to them, I pray that we are all blessed with being closer to Him and continue drawing closer and experiencing the blessings He showers on us as His children.

I look forward to seeing what He has in store for all of us, Trish and this blog as well.


himmiefan said...

Trish, thanks so much for leading this blog and the 40 Days of Faith. It's actually day 30 for me, so I'm going to spend the next 10 days praising and thanking God for his provision.

One big thing I've learned doing this 40 days of intense prayer is to actually hand my desires over to God to let him shape them. Once I was able to sincerely do that, I picked up my daily devotional, and the reading for that day was the story about Abraham being willing to sacrifice his son to God. God blessed him because he gave his desires back to God.

Now, true confessions: I forgot to fast! Oh well... Come to Nashville for a book signing! We'd love to have you. Can't wait to see what's up next for this blog.

- Patricia

Stephanie said...

Thanks for doing this Trish! I find it very fitting that the end of the 40 days is my 30th Birthday! So I will be celebrating today for more than one reason! :)

Larramie said...

This was a fascinating and revealing experience with obviously more to come for each of us.

Celebrate well, everyone. This isn't the end but a beginning of new hopes and dreams.

Sarakastic said...

Ha, the first option was my plan exactly, but I guess I'll have to change that now. Even though my specific prayers haven't been answered yet I can see how I've changed & become a better person. I'm more loving & happier now & that in itself is worth it, but I also believe that great things are coming for all of us. Enjoy the sugar in your coffee!

Suzanne said...

Trish, I was lead first to your book through another blog. Then as I was reading it, I looked up your blog just as you were starting this 40 day journey. I believe the timing of all of this was a personal call from God for me at just the time and place that I needed it. That is a prayer answered...from God to me.

Thank you for all the work you put into this blog and for guiding us through this process....I know sometime kicking and screaming (me).

Today's post was perfect. Like everyone else, I would have been tempted to take scenario #1...but I can feel a change in my heart and I am going to choose scenario #2 and remain hopeful that God is working in my life, that all of this has been brought into my life here and now for a purpose.

I will keep all of you in my prayers, I am grateful for the company of each and everyone one of you and hope that God will continue to walk with us and show us what more He has in store for us from here.

Thank you and God bless.

blessedsubstance said...

Hi We're here. I thank God for his promises. They are YES and AMEN. I thank him that my prayers are heard and have been answered.

tootie said...

I loved this journey, and I'm sad it's over!

It definitely worked for me. I got a wonderful blessing that was quite a surprise!

Thanks for the inspiration over the last 40 days!

Nic said...

Trish, thank you so much for doing all of this! I too was leaning towards option #1, but I'm choosing option #2.

Alatáriël Anwamanë said...

I'm so glad I came across your blog. Skimming it has already put hope into my heart.

Question...what are we supposed to read on the days that were skipped? Like day 35, 28, 21, 14, 8, and 7? Are you going by a book or just what ever the Lord brings to your heart on those days?

Thanks again!

Sarakastic said...

I spent my 40 days of faith praying for a new job. I was vaguely toying with the idea of going back for a master's degree but my health was so bad I wasn't sure I could make it through & b. I wasn't sure what I wanted to be. I also thought that I would have to move from my beloved small town because there aren't many jobs here. Add to that the fact that due to my health I needed something that wasn't super stressful or physically taxing, & just a few hours a day. Oh & if other people haven't noticed, the economy has been not so good lately. Nothing seemed to be going in my favor. So I prayed & followed the 40 days of Faith not knowing how it was possible for any of this to work out.

Today the phone rang with someone asking me if I wanted to work for them as a tutor. My new boss also has my exact same illness so she's really sympathetic. Plus, I'll be working 3 hours a day & making what I used to make in 8. Besides the fact that I'll be useful & helping people learn to love reading the way I do. Ummm...can we say perfect? Usually, I could think of about 100 things to worry about, but instead I'm just grateful & amazed.