What do a book tour and a Daniel fast have in common? Both can be spiritual experiences, and I had my first taste of each last month.

During the heart of the month of February, I had the privilege of traveling with author and Bible teacher Beth Moore on a four-city tour to promote her new book So Long, Insecurity. Tyndale’s marketing department had set up book signings for Beth in Atlanta, Houston, Birmingham, and Nashville, and my role was to coordinate the store events on site along with media interviews and travel arrangements.

Beth is one of my all-time favorite people as well as an extraordinarily gifted writer and teacher with a heart bigger than all of Texas. Working with Beth and her colleague Michelle from Living Proof Ministries was a blast, but what blew me away was meeting, greeting, and talking with the thousands of women – plus quite a few guys buying books for their beloved wives – who came to the nine store events. These were not just readers waiting to meet their favorite author, but students coming to thank a cherished teacher.

 I was deeply moved watching Beth greet each person waiting in line by name as she signed their books, and she never turned down a request for a hug or a photo. Many women were in tears at the opportunity to personally meet the teacher who has done so much to encourage them to follow hard after Christ. Others needed to relate a personal story to the woman they know so well through her public ministry. Time and time again Beth would stop, hold a sobbing young woman close and pray for her while stroking her hair gently like the mother that she is.  When I returned to the office I told my colleagues that this was not a book tour; it was a ministry tour – a profoundly spiritual experience.

Ash Wednesday marked the start of another new experience for me last month: my first Daniel fast, so named after the foods requested by the biblical character Daniel in the book that bears his name: fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains, and water. Mike and I decided to observe the Lenten season together this year by undertaking a Daniel fast. It’s not a diet but rather an intentional decision to forego the usual foods we eat in order to focus on spiritual disciplines. Jesus assumed his followers would occasionally fast in conjunction with prayer; I am chagrined to think of the decades that I have ignored this discipline. Odd to think that you can fast-forward your spiritual life by actually slowing down and allowing God to speak to you in new ways.

 We’re now three weeks into our Daniel fast. I’ll share what we’re learning about “fasting forward”  in my next post.