Every year since The Refuge began we have observed a corporate 21-day fast during the month of January that we call “Selah”. The word “selah” is found often in the book of Psalms and is typically translated as a musical term for a deliberate pause, much like a breath mark. As we launch into the new year, many people aspire to make improvements in the areas of finances, health, relationships, or personal growth and development. I want to share with you how you can reach new heights this year in your spiritual journey.
Several years ago Melanie and I were leaving on a short 4-day cruise to the Bahamas from Port Canaveral, Florida. It just so happened that the afternoon the ship was to sail was the same day that NASA was launching a space shuttle from Cape Canaveral. So from the deck of that cruise ship, we had an amazing view of the launch. Although it is an amazing thing to witness, the launch of a rocket is actually a very violent and dangerous event.
The closest viewing by spectators to any launch is 3.5 miles away, and boats are not allowed to be any closer than 9-12 miles. The heat, the noise, the explosion and the potential for disaster are high. When a rocket launches several things happen.
1) The tanks pressurize
2) Turbo pumps spin up and blast fuel (usually liquid hydrogen or kerosene) and liquid oxygen into the reaction chamber at high velocity
3) An ignition source starts the reaction, which sustains itself
4) The combustion products quickly build up very large pressure and force themselves down the nozzle
5) As the nozzle converges and then diverges the exhaust is accelerated faster than the speed of sound
6) Once sufficient thrust has been achieved, the rocket is released and begins climbing
The result? Violent shaking, pressure, explosions, fire, noise and lots of smoke. Can you imagine being inside the Shuttle? I believe that as you endeavor to go higher in your relationship with Jesus you will experience some things that in the moment may not seem very pleasurable or fun. In fact, they may seem somewhat scary to you. The fear of the unknown prevents most people from ever discovering new realities. But in order to discover them and to reach new heights you need to do the following:
1. Develop a prayer strategy. Many people have a strategy for their investments, their health, their career, their business, but surprisingly few people have a strategy for their prayer life. Why not consider starting a prayer journal and recording your prayers and how God answers? Have a set time and place that you meet with God, and do it consistently.
2. Develop a lifestyle of fasting. In His sermon on the mount found in Matthew 5 and 6, Jesus talks about many different things. Included in His message is teaching concerning giving, praying, and fasting. Jesus says “When you give…”, “When you pray…”, and “When you fast…” Rather than viewing fasting as optional, Jesus makes it clear that it is essential for living. As you deny yourself through fasting, as you say “No” to your flesh and even crucify it, there will be reactions that may resemble the launch of a rocket. You will be shaken, you will feel pressure, and you may feel like you are going to explode. But if you will stay buckled in for the ride, stay faithful to the commitment that you have made, you are in for the ride of your life!
3. Get in the Word. After several days of not eating your body will begin to lose strength, muscle mass, and energy. Extend the days into weeks and eventually you will die. How do we think we can go days or weeks without reading God’s Word and still maintain spiritual strength? His Word is food to your soul and without it, you will eventually die. His Word acts as a supernatural catalyst for spiritual growth. It serves as a protector from the attacks of the enemy. And it fills you with wisdom for living.
4. Stay connected and in community. One of the enemy’s goals is to isolate you from others in order to destroy you. This can happen when we start focusing on the things that irritate us about others, when we refuse to forgive someone in the church who has hurt us, or when we refuse to submit to godly leaders. God designed us so that we only mature and grow in the context of community and relationships. Staying committed to a community of believers will cause your spiritual roots to go deeper and your branches to go higher.
You do not have to stay where you are. God’s plan is to take you higher but it does require action on our part. Are you willing to do what you’ve possibly never done in order to have the walk with Him that maybe you’ve never had?