So I spent some time thinking about fasting a little bit after I had an interesting conversation with a colleague today. I asked her, "If you could do whatever, what would you be doing?" The cliff note version is that she would travel all over the world and eat at all the best restaurants in the world, not the "touristy" ones, but the real good ones, the treasures hidden away, maybe pay over $100 a plate. It got me thinking why we don't talk about fasting much. Here in America, most of us have access to food, lots and lots of food. Cheap food, healthy food, unhealthy food, food food food. We get hungry, we eat, we are full, we still eat because we can. For some its a hobby. For other's its a crutch. For some it means family for others it means the Devil. We often don't go with out, and once we feel a little rumble in the tummy, we go running around the kitchen or stop at a drive through. So the idea of fasting can be very scary, especially if you are afraid to be a little hungry. I think its interesting how influenced and manipulated we are by food.
Obviously we have to eat and God provides for his people. I am not saying food is bad or evil or that we should all be anorexic. What I want to say is that as Christ followers, we should strive to live more by the Spirit, the food Jesus talks about when the Disciples offer him food when he talks with the woman at the well, than by our natural hungers and cravings. Can I with hold my own satisfaction for the sake of another? Can I live a life where I trust more on living by God's spirit than by hugging my self with a twinkie?
I look around and see people's lives consumed with consumption and honestly its killing them. On the other hand, I have students that go a whole day with out eating much. They don't eat breakfast and lunch is meager at best. Everyday they deal with hunger and have lived to deal with it. It affects their ability to learn and pay attention. So starving isn't the answer either. But can we learn to deny or delay self satisfaction in order to empty ourselves, so that Christ can flow out of us?
Fasting is mentioned quite a bit in the old testament and some in the new testament. When Christ talks about casting out demons, to pray and fast. I think we should talk about it more and practice it more as Christians, even though it is counter culture.
Christ is our model, who demonstrated complete submission to God, even through beatings and ultimately death. Can we not submit our bodies, hungers, and cravings to our Lord and Savior?
I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Sorry it has been almost a month since I last updated. Boy/(Girl) have we been busy with family, traveling, and transitioning with 3 children! I hope you at least got a chuckle out of the "Vlog"...I was trying my best not to look or sound half dead, but some were meant to be in front of the camera and some were not...I don't think I was meant to be in front of the camera, but let me stop trying to get unneeded sympathy...
I want to write about fasting. It has been on my mind and in my heart, and I feel like its time to write about it. I really first started thinking about it after I had a discussion with a family friend on our visit to Chicagoland. He mentioned that during one of the hardest times during his missionary experience, he had fasted and prayed, and that the Lord gave him a clear vision for the direction his family should go. I asked him how often he fasted and he said about once a week to pray for his students and during Ramadan, which I thought was interesting as well.
It got me thinking, should I fast? And so I have been praying on how I should start implementing fasting in my life. The more closer to Jesus I get, the more filled I get, the more of a spiritual life I live, and the further away I get from living according to my fleshly desires. But my body, my physical body has so many appetites, for example, chocolate, pizza, chocolate, me time, me time, me time, to be thinner, to be stronger, to be right, to be entertained, etc, etc. Did I mention chocolate? My point being is I am constantly dealing with different things I desire, some things not so bad but at times can lead to selfishness and unhealthiness. Can I do with out? Are there things I really could give up? Can I rely on spiritual food a little more than food food? When Jesus was talking to the woman at the well, and the disciples went to get food, they returned and asked if he was hungry. Jesus replied, I have food that you don't know about.
I guess what I am seeing is that fasting is a away to distance our selves from our selves and focus on Christ, where by we empty ourselves, God can fill us up.
But I think we have to be careful not to fast as the Pharisees, because when I am hungry, I tend to get cranky, very cranky. "I want some pieeeee!" Or we might have a tendency to want to talk about it. "Yeah, I am fasting, I am so spiritual..." I see fasting as a way to worship God, to offer ourselves as a sacrifice. I also believe fasting helps us to recognize areas of need and growth. We can fast from more than just food. We can fast from anything that gets in the way of our relationship with God.
I would encourage you to seek and pray about how God may want you to fast.