Mark Aug. 14, 2007, as the day I got tired of playing "He loves me, He loves me not." Nothing in the noumenal or phenomenal world presaged this occurrence. It was about 7 a.m. and I was walking the dog on Harrison Avenue, and at the corner of Harrison and Waverly I decided that the game stops here-which, as I think of it, is similar to C.S. Lewis' underwhelming conversion recorded in Surprised by Joy: "When we set out I did not believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and when we reached the zoo I did."
I had been awake since 1 a.m., which is earlier by two hours than my usual waking time. It was the last stretch of a 32-hour fast in concert with a friend, we petitioning for the sleep that has become a stranger to my bed since March of 2005. God's response: silence-and less sleep.
But vacillation is as wearisome as sleeplessness. On 8-14-07 I was "wearied with the length of [my] way" (Isaiah 57:10). And Elijah's rebuke seemed pleasing to my soul: "How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, then follow him" (1 Kings 18:21).
I'm not about to lie for God. Here are the facts: "He gives to His beloved sleep" (Psalm 127:2). I am His beloved, but do not sleep. Of course there are equally embarrassing states of affair: "he who hates unjust gain will prolong his life" (Proverbs 28:16), but Jesus hated unjust gain and died at age 33. So something strange is afoot. But this is God's public-relations mess, not ours. As for us, "We cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth" (2 Corinthians 13:8). We are thus given liberty to say what we see, and His is the burden of wresting glory from it.
On August 13th I happened to read, in Waking the Dead by John Eldredge, "You were born into a world at war, and you will live all your days in the midst of a great battle, involving all the forces of heaven and hell played out here on earth. . . . Until we come to terms with war as the context of our days we will not understand life. We will misinterpret 90 percent of what is happening around us and to us. It will be hard to believe that God's intentions toward us are life abundant."
A certain man fasted three weeks to my one day, and not over a touch of insomnia but over visions of the "abomination that causes desolation." Was he answered speedily? He was not.
A man clothed in linen and gold touched him and said, "Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia, and came to make you understand what is to happen to your people in the latter days" (Daniel 10:12-14).
Evidently, if a demon exercising influence over some foreign country gets into a tangle with your angel that God has dispatched to your rescue in response to fasting, you may sometimes have to wait a while for succor. Modern ears are tingling about now, but if they bury the book of Daniel, they still have Ephesians 6 to contend with:
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places" (verses 10-12).
This is the best I can do with unanswered prayer. The possible answers seem to be "yes," "no," or "you have no idea what's going on behind the curtain of your sensate reality, so you best make up your mind once and for all-I do love you. Will you trust Me?"