One of the most terrifying experiences I had as a child was getting lost in the woods behind our home in New Jersey. We lived in a fairly remote area that, while developed, had a good amount of undeveloped land surrounding it. The area was mountainous enough to have ski resorts not far from where we lived. However, the wooded area behind our home wasn’t an unending wilderness full of monsters as I thought then; it was just a small patch of woods that wasn’t as scary as my 8-year-old mind remembers it. At that time, when I was out adventuring in the woods together with my older sister and younger brother, I put on a brave face since I was the default “leader” in wilderness exploration. No, I would not admit that I was lost and afraid. I loved exploring in those woods and would daily spend hours (usually not far from the house) climbing trees and looking for whatever strange and wonderful treasures I could find. Once on such a trek nearby our home, my sister and I stumbled upon a very old, unkempt cemetery from at least a century ago. Some of the coffins were peeking out of the soil – we made a quick retreat home!
Mom and Dad knew that I loved exploring and daily warned me to “stay close” to home –I obviously did not heed their warnings on that day all three of us were wandering in the woods. My sister began questioning me, “Lea, you really don’t know where we are do you?” to which I replied angrily, “Of course I know where we are, I’m always out here.” After putting a brave face for quite some time (I was hoping I would stumble on a familiar marker to lead us home), I conceded defeat! I couldn’t deny her accusations any longer and really began to worry. Tears stung my eyes as I admitted, “We’re lost! No one will find us! We will die out here!” I had mental pictures of those coffins sticking out of the ground opening up to swallow us. My sister and I began crying out for our Dad in earnest, “Dad! Dad!” My little brother, too young to understand why we were so upset, busied himself with carrying as many sticks as he could which was his obsession at the time.
In the distance, much to our relief, we heard a very familiar voice calling out to us, “Where are you?” Dad had come! He swiftly gathered our brother in his arms and led us home at that “angry Dad” pace that children everywhere well understand.
This story came back to me this morning as I read in Genesis the account of Adam and Eve’s sin. God had made a world and the culmination of His creation was forming man and woman to fellowship with Him in the garden. God never spent time chatting with the elephants or lions or opossums in the garden; His desire in creation was to be with Adam and Eve, to create a family, to be a Father.
God had come to the garden and was walking in the garden to be with Adam and Eve. They were nowhere to be found. God knew where they were, but they didn’t know – this is why He called out to them in Genesis 3:9 NLT “Where are you?” Adam and Eve’s sin opened their eyes to the consequences of their choice, being lured away from home, and they were ashamed to face the Father. Their solution? Hiding themselves among the trees, in the woods.
Genesis 3:8,9 NLT “When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. Then the Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’ ”
Life has a way of pulling us out into the woods, places that aren’t cleared or familiar to us. There are undeveloped places that, if we enter them, draw our focus away from home. There are many reasons to fast, as we are for the next 21 days, but for me, the primary reasons I fast is to get a clearer picture of home. To renew my focus and get out of the woods, out from where life has brought me spiritually, and back to a place where my Father’s voice is very clear.
Fasting is not simply abstaining from food or whatever activity we might have chosen to fast (some fast media, TV, entertainment, etc.) Fasting is setting those meals, those activities, aside and spending time with God. If we don’t replace them, we are simply on a hunger strike or advanced diet. Begin your day and spend several times a day with time in God’s Word and prayer. Have a journal nearby and begin noting the verses that speak to you, noting the things that come to you in prayer. Write down your prayers, your thoughts, and by the end of the fast you can reflect back on what you have written and see how God led you out of the woods.
Our Father is faithful; He always comes looking for us when we’ve lost sight of home. His voice calls out to us when we’re lost – we simply need to follow Him home.