Last February, I went on extended fast. I did not have a specific purpose, other than wanting to be closer to the Lord.
And the Lord did bring me closer. By the last two weeks, He was speaking to my heart almost daily, through His Word and through His still small voice on one topic: the foundation of spiritual preparation in light of what is coming to our nation.
Our natural response to difficulties (in our flesh) is to hold on to what we have and go into a self-survival mode. But what the Lord revealed to me multiple times was that those who will make it through the days ahead will be those who love other people!
As this fasting and prayer journey continued, part of me felt like responding, “Okay, God, thanks for the insight, but tell me something new. Love is everywhere in the Bible. Love your enemies, love others in the family of faith with a fervent love, and love everyone in between. Got it. Next lesson, please.”
But I didn’t have it. The Lord began to take me deeper into this understanding. In essence, He challenged me with the idea that Christians are called to fundamentally live their lives for others.
Ouch. Typically, when I think of loving people, I choose to pray for them, give materially or financially to meet a need, or offer a listening ear. But the Lord was saying to fundamentally live my life for other people, not only during stable times but also in times of crisis.
Then He prompted me to consider Victor Hugo’s French classic Les Miserables. In this epic novel with scriptural themes throughout (such as the ugliness of sin, the bondage of living under law, and grace that changes hearts), He reminded me of how the main character, Jean Valjean, fundamentally lived for other people.
The story begins with Valjean’s release from prison. Through the kindness of a godly priest, his heart was changed forever. Eventually, he lived his life for a young girl born to a prostitute who had passed away.
Jean Valjean rose up to love this little girl as his own daughter, and he sacrificed everything for her. At the end of the musical, as Valjean was transitioning from earth to heaven, he and the godly priest sang, “Remember the truth that once was spoken, to love another person is to see the face of God.”
To love another person is the highest form of humanness—it is how God created us to live. And it really is to see the face of God.
So for me, I need to quit being so driven and busy. I need to stop making sure things look right or are going according to plan, when God is calling me to love people. I need to help other people in practical and probably time-consuming ways, for their good! That is love.
In summary, this is what God unequivocally showed me: He will protect and help those who make a practice of loving people, which means helping people in tangible, meaningful ways.
As you go about your day and week, try to keep this thought before you: Those who will make it through the days ahead will be those who fundamentally live their lives for other people. Then ask these practical questions: Lord, how do I love others? Can You show me someone to love today? Who can I help in a practical way? What is my next step on this journey?
(This concludes my series on spiritual preparation. To help things settle in your spirit, take a few minutes to review the seven ways to spiritually prepare, explained in this blog and the previous two blogs. May God bless you as you prepare for the challenging days ahead.)