Rising to the Surface

Focus 40Day 8

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry. – Matthew 4:1-2 NIV

I think it is important that we not miss the point that Jesus started out by fasting. Before He began teaching or healing, He fasted. It was a time of focus, preparation, and sorting. My family prefers raw milk. None of this pasteurized/homogenized stuff out of a carton for us. We like it right out of the cow. One of the characteristics of raw milk is that if it is allowed to rest still and undisturbed, it separates and the cream rises to the top. When milk has separated, you have a couple of choices. You can shake the bottle and the cream will disappear into the rest of the milk, or you can draw the cream off and transform it into useful things, such as butter and whipped cream.

When people fast for a long time, their hearts begin to rest and settle, and the things that are hidden in their hearts tend to rise to the surface. We may find that the anger or resentment we thought we had dealt with long ago is still a nagging presence. Or we may find that a passion or calling that we had never noticed is crying for our attention. That long period of time may come in the form of a prolonged fast like Jesus, or it may come in the form of a prolonged habit of shorter fasts over a period of weeks, months, or years. In either case, the result is the same: the true nature of our hearts rises to the surface. It may come through temptation, prayer, study, or conversation, but it will come.

When that occurs, we have a couple of options. We can fill the stillness with noise — shake our hearts up so the issues disappear back into the milk of our everyday lives. The other option is to stay quiet and allow the Spirit to draw off whatever rises to the surface of our hearts (He brought them up in the first place).

When Jesus fasted, He went through temptation and His true nature as the sinless Lamb of God rose to the surface. What rises to the surface of our hearts may not be so noble. But if we allow the Spirit to draw it off and transform it, He can make it something useful in our lives.

Father, help us learn to allow stillness and quiet into our lives. Transform whatever rises to the surface into something useful and honoring to you.

– Pastor Bruce Steffensen, Interim Pastor, Holiday Park Church of God, Portland, Oregon

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