Fasting For Repentance
The conscience is without mercy. No matter how much we want to cover up, our conscience knows the truth. It becomes the nagging voice in the back of the head. We may convince ourselves and rationalize our behavior yet, the ache continues with its haunting voice, leaving one way out, the most difficult, repentance, grace and change.
The “cave” was dark, damp and silent. The smell of cows lingers in the air. A room built in the basement of a barn. A place to wrestle with my soul. A foam pad, pillow, bible and water bottle were my only comfort.
I never thought it possible that I could fall to such depravity, especially while being at the helm of a ministry, a hypocrite before God and man. The bitter taste of sin lingers in my mouth.
One shallow empty moment and all came tumbling down. I could blame it on the third-world country I had visited or the fact that I had never faced rampant prostitution before. I could blame the Internet for making pornography one click away. I could to blame the church, making me feel an outcast, but the burden of guilt lies on my shoulders. I had decided to sin. A compromise built on many smaller decisions, rooted in a heart that had grown cold to Christ. It was slow erosion, so subtle, changing my character. While preaching purity, I had become contaminated, dirty, lived with the shame, covered up, yet God knew.
I ask myself which came first the pride or the lust. It was pride. Its hardness had allowed me to hide behind a masquerade. And this was my fast to repentance. Sickened by my own sin; it had to die.
I have fasted many times. But this fast is different; it is a war with my sinful nature and only one of us will leave this place alive. I wanted the real thing. I wanted to be like Christ.
The silence hurt my ears. I looked up into total darkness. I could imagine Christ looking at the night sky during His desert fast. Maybe from the mouth of a cave, provided by His father to protect from the burning sun and harsh desert winds. His body weakened by lack of food as he prepared for selfless service, strengthened by the men and women that would follow him. Maybe he saw my cave. Maybe it was just my imagination heightened by fasting, but warmth came to my heart. I saw His eyes filled with compassion, staring through time, asking one question. Do you love me?
I wept with sorrow.
This book was birthed in the cave during that time of repentance. I lay in my garbage before the throne of God, meanwhile, His hand of kindness lifted me to me to see the suffering of His people, to entrust knowledge and call me higher.
My journey to the cave was profound. From the sorrow of sin to love acceptance and trust. I felt touched, cleansed and renewed. The presence of God was thick. I felt a breaking inside, painful but nothing compared to the joy that came.
When I was younger a friend was going to confession. I thought it would be worth a try. Inside the booth, I poured my sin list and had this incredible cleansing experience. I could feel the presence of God. As I talked, the priest was silent, and so I continued with greater boldness. As I finished, I heard a door creak and a person being seated. I had been alone.
It is great to have a friend who does not try to fix you but just listens and believes in you. You can admit to eating the entire tray of brownies at 3 A.M., or have that cigarette, or logging on to that Internet porn site. With a confidant, you are no longer alone in your struggles. They become a mirror, showing our true value. In doing so, the future is brightener and our past becomes but a lesson on that journey.
Cleansing The Conscience
Money, medications, material possessions, achievements, good deeds or perfect living cannot buy a clear conscience. It is easy to make excuses, but if you do not believe your own lie, it will be powerless to sooth your conscience. Guilt can last a lifetime, and the pain does not lessen with age.
After being a Bible believer for several years, I discovered that the four gospels were originally anonymous and the names Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were added years later including the fake personal intro. With more study it became clear that the books of the Bible were written from 40 to 120 years AD and each version becoming more complex and detailed. I was in shock to read the note at the bottom of Mark stating the various more elaborate additions of the resurrection story that did not exist in the first publishing were added at a later date. The evidence points to a highly embellished story centred on a travelling magician that became a central plot for hundreds of gospel styled books. Over one hundred were discovered dated to the period. One had John the Baptist ordering bedbugs out of his bed with the power of God. One statement in the Bible is accurate “the truth shall set you free.”
I had based my belief on a feeling. Believing in God had given me purpose, significance and a plan. I wanted to feel special. I faced harsh depression when the religion bubble bust and it took me years to get to a basic understanding that I define my purpose and death is not to be feared as there is nothing.
I have continued to help people in fasting and worked in a hospital in the Philippines and with the provincial governments of Papua New Guinea. I believe that one of life’s greatest pleasures is to help people regain health and passion for life. I have travelled the world for 15 years and presently in Asia. Occasionally, I am joined by a visitor from Fasting.ws and we have fasted together and become good friends.
It takes courage to challenge a religious belief that offers so much. For me, truth and hash, cold reality is better than the most beautiful intoxicating lie. Soul searching finding meaning purpose and passion is a journey that you define. There is no map or predefined steps to take, just big questions and the courage to make changes. I constantly ask myself “what do I want” and “what do I need”. At this moment I am living in a hotel in Vietnam for $6 a day in the cool mountain air of Dalat, Vietnam. I have more than I need, rich in experience and freedom and uncluttered with possessions and attachments. Yet I never would have made it to this point without the big questions, forcing myself to answer and act. Freedom demands sacrifice to reach it which I am glad I did.
We all make mistakes and fail. No one is perfect, and failure is part of life. You do not have to live up to some impossible religious standard. You can be “you” and that is good enough for the world. Life is hard, confusing, and painful but if you push your limits there are some glorious moments ahead of you. I wish there is a God, a divine creator, heaven and master plan, I want to believe, but the more I look for proof, the more difficult it is hard to believe and as of yet nothing to prove God exists. The existence of mankind and the universe does not prove there is a creator just that there is Universe, a bubble in a sea of Universes that is a just bubble in an endless ocean of infinity. Yes, we are small and insignificant but we have life, love, freedom and the opportunity to create.
Set your standards for an amazing life then live it.
By Tom Coghill of Fasting.ws Articles may be copied or reproduced as long as the back links to fasting.ws are intact and the author’s name is included.