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Posts Tagged ‘fasting’

The Odd Art of Fasting

Fasting.  Why do we participate in such an odd thing?  We work all our life to obtain, and here we are declaring our fast from those things we thought we were looking for.  Our very act of fast seems to denounce the hard work we have put in to the consumption we were previously engaged in and will soon take up again. No matter what your reason for fasting, frankly, it’s weird.

However, maybe it is not our fast that is weird, but our own behavior.  We fast for 40 days during lent for various reasons.  Some have discovered that they are addicted to certain things, so in order to move away from those things they refrain from consuming said things. At least for 40 days.  Why is that weird? Because we admit that these are things not healthy for us, yet we go back to them after 40 days.  We spend our fast longing for that which is unhealthy.  Honestly, it is like a spiritual bathing suit diet.  I don’t really want to be healthy, but I’d like to at least look good once in awhile.

But the Biblical fast was less about abstaining from and more about focusing on.  Fasts were called for in order to focus and pray intently on a serious matter, to prepare for different tasks.  Biblical fasts generally were about moving toward God to hear his voice, to see his face.   The most famous fast we have is Jesus’ fast.  He wasn’t fasting to abstain from sins in his life, but in preparation to follow and depend upon every movement of the Father.

The other thing about Biblical fasting is that it always involved food.  I doubt Jesus was a glutton.  (Judging by all the paintings, he was either a competitive swimmer or a troubadour singer from the 60’s.) What Jesus was doing was living by the real essence of fundamental living; the truth of God. Even before shelter, food, and clothing, we need the presence of God in our life and to feed on that presence.

I don’t know about you, but that is a reality I need to revisit often and put to the test.  This lenten season I have decided to fast from lunches everyday and a full fast once a week.  I have learned several things about myself.  1. I snack a lot.  I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have slapped my hand as I have mindlessly reached for a cookie or cracker or my daughters PB&J.  2. I can justify about anything.  My first full fast was very tough in the beginning.  Missing dinner while making dinner for Sydney was a true test.  I kept coming back to the prayer of “let me feed on your presence in my life, Lord”.  I almost caved several times.  3. God is faithful.  In those moments of weakness, I was able to look to the Lord and find strength and even joy.

I had to let go of one frame of mind and grab on to another.  I had to let go of one dependence and find another.  When I looked at this fast as a task, as something to simply complete, I would think, “I need to eat a big meal so I can make it through missing my next meal”.  Then, when the Lord kindly reminded me why I was doing this I changed and thought, “He has food for me that will satisfy the depth of my being”.

I won’t lie, I am very hungry right now, but giving this hunger to God I find that he fills me with a comfort and strength no steak every could.  I’m not fasting in order to appreciate more what I have an abundance of, to abstain from unhealthy behaviors, to prove my strength of will, or even to obtain some mystical experience.  I fast so that I might focus more clearly upon the presence and reality of God and to take him on his word that he sustains all my needs and that they begin with him.  I fast, not to be deprived, but to feast. The absence of food in my life doesn’t make me miss food because fasting is not about the absence of a basic need, but about the presence of the primary need;  God in my life.

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Tombstone Trophies

The clutter of life piles in pillars.  Monuments to my insatiable appetite. They are prophets of emptiness.  These pillars, these statues, these tombstone trophies of perishing reminders that I have not found what I seek. Yet I still listen to their comforting whispers and warning shouts.  Despite the collection of dust that rests on their muzzle, I hear their words as wisdom.  Why else would I spend vast amounts of life being consumed by my consumption?  Why else would I listen to these false prophets; these dogs of desire?

The creeks, cries, and calls of my life no longer sound dissonant.  Their familiarity breeds content.  I rest in denial though I’ve been denied nothing.

Fast. Fasting. Cross. Cross Bearing. Die. Dying.

These are the dissonant words I hear.  An ill struck chord that shakes my teeth. A sound I mistake as out-of-place.  Discovery is disconcerting.  Truth unwavering.  Moving past the rattling in my mouth I hear my weariness.  I hear my weakness.  I hear my salvation.  These new words, these monumental words, these trying words are not dissonant.  They are not new.  An echo through time of symphonic bliss. A river of truth, inviting winds of change, reveal that what I had called comforting whispers before was but a crying baby in a symphony hall.

Fast. Fasting. Cross. Cross Bearing. Die. Dying.

These are not elements of a bleak life.  These are not elements of a suffocating religion.

These are the means of grace in which I am purged of my addictions.                                                                                                                                                              These are the means of grace in which I am cleansed of my consumption.                                                                                                                                                     These are the means of grace in which I find what I am looking for.

It is not death to die, but to Live is Christ.

To Live Is Christ.

to LIVE is CHRIST!

I once denied nothing, yet had nothing.                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I now deny all, and find what I seek

Life. Overflowing life. Abundant life.

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