Today's post was written by BH member, Hanna Taylor, who serves as a Singles 20s/30s Small Group Leader and who works on our staff as our Local Missions Administrative Assistant.
My story isn’t one of a rebellious youth or an unloved addict. I didn’t have daddy issues or struggle with unbearable depression. If you were to ask my parents, they would probably say that I’ve always been a well-behaved and relatively happy girl. I excelled in school and tried hard to do right. I remember feeling and knowing the realness of God at a very young age.
In college, I began to toy around with some things I found more satisfying than church camps and youth retreats; namely alcohol, dancing, and college guys. My heart would remind me that Jesus mattered, but my flesh argued that what I wanted mattered more.
An ironic pattern of bar hopping on Friday nights and pew sitting on Sunday mornings began to characterize the next few years of my life. In my drunkenness, I would invite my bar friends to church and would consider myself quite the evangelist for doing so. Compared to the world around me, I had what I considered to be high moral standards, and for the most part, I stood by them.
Then one Sunday morning as I was sitting in church, hungover, God spoke to me through an old familiar hymn, "Amazing Grace" and told me the truth about where I stood according to His Word. Something in my heart finally identified with the “wretch” in that song, though I never would have considered myself a wretch before that moment. I understood for the first time that it wasn't the amount or the depth of my sin that qualified me as “wretched” before God, but simply that I was a sinner and by His standards I have, and always would, fall short. I need Jesus. With tears streaming down my face, I called out to God to forgive me. I was sorry for living for myself and for setting my own standards of right and wrong. I wanted to follow Jesus, and I wanted to change.
But I couldn't. Five days later, I was back at the bar. I couldn't seem to give up that part of my life because that’s where I felt free and unburdened. To be honest, it was where I had the most fun and where I seemed to fit in. Yet the strange, unrelenting conviction in my heart to know God was not going away.
Then one day, unexpectedly and certainly undeservingly, God spoke to me so sweetly, so persuasively, that I couldn't resist Him. He dared me to believe that He could satisfy me in ways that I thought only the world could. He pleaded with my heart over the idols I had built that were standing between us, and He told me to trust Him.
God gave me the strength to let go of alcohol that day, as well as some other things I had tried to give up on my own but never could. While fasting from them, I drew strength from God’s Word and through prayer and worship. God began transforming my mind and introducing me to His glory. He was changing the way I thought and spoke and loved and viewed the world. He was repurposing me. His Spirit began bearing witness to my soul that I was His and He was mine, convincing me that there was nothing greater in this whole world than my God and that my life was never going to be the same.
Within a week of letting go of the things I had clung so tightly to just days before, I knew that there was no getting them back, and I didn't want them back. What started as a fast turned into something much more. I had been made new.
Since then, I have dedicated every January as a time of prayer and fasting. Each time it looks a little different, but the purpose remains the same: to put aside everything hindering me from knowing God, to trust that He will fulfill me in every way, and to remember the "amazing grace that saved a wretch like me."
Through regular fasting, God exposes the desires and the cravings we have that are not for Him, and the best part is, He changes them. When we are willing to come face-to-face with the question, “Do I want God?” He proves Himself worth wanting.