“This feels like surgery.
I need a week, not a day, on each fast!”
This statement is among the most common encouragements I am hearing from readers of 40 Days of Decrease. Yep. Or even a month. But I am guessing that 40 weeks of decrease (let alone 40 months of decrease) would have been a bit of a daunting title for most of us. 🙂
At heart, I am a teacher/mentor. This book fused my love for studying God’s Word with my love for mentoring God’s people. Today I would like to offer an encouragement to any who feel that the reflections and fasts are taking them in unexpected, and uncomfortable, directions:
Spiritual Formation is surgical.
Since I am somewhat (read, TOO) familiar with surgeries, the parallel has been rich for me. Personally, I prepare for spiritual surgeries the same way I prepare for physical surgeries:
Clear space: Before a surgery, I intentionally clear my schedule of all but the essentials. I cancel what can be cancelled, delegate what can be delegated, and leave the rest undone. Deep work needs space to breathe. A cluttered, busy life can drain the oxygen out of a room, or a healing.
Ask for help: Studies confirm over and over that healthy relationships are healing catalysts. Before a surgery, I ask friends and family for help. So many are so happy to do something tangible to express their love. The same is true when I sense God doing a deep work within my soul. Friends are called to pray, to help, and to guard me in the midst of holy weakness.
Eat as directed: What goes in directly affects what can be done. Before and after surgery, I am especially attentive to what I am digesting (physically and spiritually). Sometimes it seems as though we self-distract with junk in times of spiritual surgery. Stay present and attend to what goes into your mind and spirit.
Be still: This really is the primary job of a surgery patient. Clearly, it is hard (impossible?) to perform surgery on a moving target. My stillness muscles–physically and mentally–get a work out in the process of surgery. The same is true spiritually. Being still in God’s presence reminds me that He is in control and that I am loved for who I am, not for what I do.
Be patient: Healing cannot be hurried. Recovery is as critical as surgery.
Remember who the real surgeon is: Who performs surgery on themselves? Surgery is an outside job. Our job is to cooperate while the experts do their work. Spiritually, the true surgeon is not your mind. It is Jesus. Via His Word and Spirit, Jesus–the Great Physician–is doing a work beyond our comprehension.
Looking back on my recent surgeries, I only understood in part what the surgeons were doing.
We do not have to fully understand in order to fully cooperate. What a relief.
So as you journey through 40 Days of Decrease or any other book that you sense has become surgical, be encouraged: God’s Spirit can penetrate our souls at depths our minds can only dream of exploring. When God’s work outruns your knowledge, rejoice and rest in the surgery to come: God only wounds to heal.