Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Much Left to Give

Do you have a hunger for God? If we don't feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because we have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because we have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Our soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great. If we are full of what the world offers, then perhaps a fast might express, or even increase, our soul's appetite for God. Between the dangers of self-denial and self-indulgence is the path of pleasant pain called fasting. ~John Piper

In my last post, I mentioned how our church had fasted for forty days last year and how many did not fast food, but things like "Starbucks, the Internet, TV, and electronic games." I do not mean to minimize these commitments, but they easily could have been New Year's resolutions. My point is how most people were willing to temporarily give up what are the excesses of their lives, but not real necessities and I would say that at least some of them, seeing how their lives could be without those things which crowd out time with God, still returned to them.

Many of those options were completely unavailable to my family. We are not coffee drinkers and definitely not into Starbucks. We had made a decision to turn off our TV service over a year ago, although we watch a few shows some weeks (and some weeks not at all) on the computer or a DVD movie, we just feel they take up so much time. We have a few computer games, although you will rarely see us playing them, but we do not have a Wii (although we might soon?) or anything else like that. We have so many other things to do that we just do not have much time to fit such things in and when we do not have something that needs to be done (actually, that never is a possibility, it is more like when we are purposely avoiding what we could be doing), there is always a good book to read, or a board game to play, or something to research on the Internet, or an scientific experiment to try (as the Princess is into that right now), or a mitten kitten who needs to be cuddled, or...well there just is always something to do other than play a game all by yourself on a box.

My point is that I think it is important to consider what fasting really is. I do not think that when Jesus fasted that He fasted excesses. He probably did not even have excesses! However, in fasting He suffered and denied Himself one of the things most required by the body to survive: food.

Now I know that some people cannot fast food because of medications they are taking or due to blood sugar problems, but self-sacrifice is the heart of fasting and fasting excesses is not fasting. Fasting should not just be a minor inconvenience, but something that will gnaw at you, something that allows you to suffer a bit, something that alters your perspective when you look at your own life. I understand that for those who have never done it, baby stepping into the practice of fasting is a path of learning to trust God, but it should be a progressive process, one that is continued throughout one's lifetime.

Jesus fasted. His disciples fasted. Many of the most influential Christians throughout history fasted. I think very few Christians sitting in comfortable pews fast, too few. So many people miss the blessing of the sacrifice, of tasting what Jesus chose to suffer, of this special way of communing with our Lord.

Each time I have fasted, I have been shown glimpses of my life from a differing perspective, God's perspective; I have better identified the excesses and determined free myself of them, not that I am always successful, but then human beings are a work in progress and God is patient.

~ My Lord, You have given me such wonderful gifts during and after fasts. I wish more Christians would devote themselves to fasting and sacrificing in honoring You. ~

6 comments:

  1. Sometimes, during short fasts, it's simply a matter of gritting one's teeth & getting on with it. Longer fasts [for some strange reason] are easier! lol There is a spiritual principal involved. It can really rankle with those who don't practise it. Dearest doesn't & he's rather cross with me because now Dino does ~ & Liddy, of course! Yet how a fast helps break the strongholds in our hearts!!!! And it sharpens spiritual awareness! Yet invariably people prefer to take the path of least resistance ~ & miss out on the blessing!

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  2. Ganeida, I have always said that the first three days, the third day in particular, are the hardest. By the time one gets to the sixth day, it seems to smooth out. I used to think that ten days was a long fast, but having done one for forty days, I would say that it changed my perspective of "long."

    We have much more to give than we think we do.

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  3. Great Post! I really liked what you had to say about defining what fasting is and is not - it's not about giving up excesses or a minor inconvenience. I would love to hear more about the results of your fasting experiences. I meat very few people who do it.

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  4. Thank you, Paula. I feel kind of like a broken record when it comes to talking and writing about fasting and my experiences with it. I have several posts on it here that you can access: http://sanctuary-me.blogspot.com/search/label/fasting.

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  5. It's so funny.... I resist fasting tooth and nail, have to be practically dragged into a fast kicking and screaming (just keepin' it real here;-}) But still, how the Lord honors my pathetic little fasts! He always always reveals Himself to me in a big way in the midst of a fast... or immediately afterwards as the case may be. I really feel that fasting one day each week as a regular discipline would be a good thign for me. But I'm not there yet. sadly.
    Linda, you have been a real encouragement and inspiration to me on this subject... just soze ya know:)

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  6. Persuaded, the once-a-week day fast is mostly a discipline. It does break me of cravings and gives me more energy the next day. Even such a short fast, I cannot just eat regularly the next day coming off of it. However, I wish that I would devote myself more to spiritual matters than I do for that day. I think longer fasts are easier to focus spiritually in that way for me.

    I have written this before, although it seems like a fast at the drop of a hat, I cannot say that I enjoy fasting itself really, but I do love the results. Like you, I have nearly always been given answers or enlightenment during or immediately after a fast. The one we did with the church,...I would say the answers came but the focus of the fast from the other people's perspective differed from what I was called to pray for. I found it to be the most spiritually disturbing and uncomfortable fasts I have ever done so far, because of what I felt called to do during it.

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Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.