A forsaken man. Without a country. Without a hope.
His soul in turmoil, like the hot winds and raging sands that lash him with the fury of a taskmaster’s whip.
He is driven forward,
by a God unknown toward a land unseen…
Each night brings the black embrace of loneliness.
In the mocking whisper of the wind, he hears the echoing voices of the dark.
His tortured mind, wondering if they call the memory of past triumphs,
or wail foreboding of disasters yet to come,
or whether the desert’s hot breath has melted his reason into madness.
He cannot cool the burning kiss of thirst upon his lips nor shade the scorching fury of the sun.
All about is desolation.
He can neither bless nor curse the power that moves him, for he does not know from where it comes.
Learning that it can be more terrible to live than to die,
he is driven onward through the burning crucible of desert,
where holy men and prophets are cleansed and purged for God’s great purpose.
Until at last,
at the end of human strength,
beaten into the dust from which he came,
the metal is ready for the Maker’s hand.
-Cecil B. DeMille, from The Ten Commandments
Never have words resonated more truly than those words resonate with me today. On Sabbath afternoon, I found myself in desperation mode, pleading with God for a change in my life, or at least an understanding of why my change had not come. For months I have struggled with spiritual apathy and disconnectedness. These two things had already taken over my natural life, and it could only have been a matter of time before they took over my spiritual life as well. All my coping mechanisms failed to soothe the agony of the soul separated from its Maker.
I spoke to a former classmate from ARISE, Sandra that afternoon, and she encouraged me to read the Word and find the answers there. I agreed to take the few moments I had left before I had to depart for the evening to read the Bible. I opened it once, and it opened to Acts 9. I thought to myself, “I won’t find anything worthwhile there” and closed it again. I opened the Bible again, and it opened to Acts 9 for a second time. I shook my head and started reading. Shortly I came to verse 6: “And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.” Then Saul went into the city, and he waited, without eating or drinking, until it was shown what he must do.
“So be it,” I said. And at the moment began an unbelievable journey, a journey without food and water. I prayed more and more as my strength became less and less. The first test came Sunday morning, as the sponsor of the Health-Evangelistic Series I’ve been a part of producing took the entire production crew to Olive Garden for a feast. Reluctant to proclaim my fasting for everyone to know and discuss, I said nothing. Soon the questions rose of why I was not ordering. I silently said, “I’m just fasting.” When the food came out, it pushed my will pretty far. Everyone had something different. Everything smelled so good. I prayed as my stomach churned. At the end of the first 24 hours, I wondered how much longer I could last. Simple tasks such as showering and washing hands became temptations to break the fast. The first night I broke down in tears, singing the song “Help Me Believe” by Kirk Franklin. I collapsed upon the cold earth, begging for the hand I had been waiting for so long. The only answer was the chilling wind freezing the moisture upon my face.
After 48 hours I knew I was at the end of my rope. I knew I could not last another day without food or water. But we may most easily find our Father at the end of human strength. And, at the end of human strength, some 50+ hours into the fast I cried out one last time. I thought I was not heard. I returned the the place where we had just finished recording and sat down in the back, waiting to leave. Hyperventilation and tachycardia set it. I could no longer think. I heard the others calling to me and I staggered to my feet to pack up my computer and leave. Someone, alarmed by my hyperventilation and the dreadful coldness of my flesh, called the doctor who had presented that evening, and he came and stood in my way, bidding me to sit for a moment. I sat down. He started asking questions. I whispered to him of the fast, how it had started, and how I needed the change of heart…to love my Father again, to be drawn to Him, draw others toward Him, to break free from my apathy. My heart rate was now up to 120, and he called the lay pastor in and sent everyone else out of the room. They laid hands upon me, prayed for me, and the miracle came. I was too weak to know it.
They bade me drink as a sign of my faith that my prayers had been answered. I was too weak to drink of my own accord, and they had to pour water into my mouth, bit by bit. Cup after cup was brought. The Word was read aloud. Fruit was brought. Juice was brought, and finally, solid food. Within the half-hour, I was fully restored, and my heart was filled to overflowing with love, joy, and peace…the fruit of the spirit for which I had been starving.
I want to extend my unreserved thanks to all of you who lifted me up in your prayers, and who, through your calls and messages, brought encouragement to me in my desperation. Thanks be to God our Father and to the Lord Jesus Christ, who gives us the victory. From that night, November 15th, I have not ceased to radiate. If you have not seen me yet, find a way. You will find a changed man.