Let me first say how nice it is to be able to talk to you. A couple of times each week I am able to sit down with you and just muse about what’s on my mind. Thanks for giving me that freedom. Sometimes I hope to enlighten others from what I’ve learned, other times I like to challenge as I have been challenged. And then, there are days like today when I am grateful for the chance to confess my lack of great spirituality. Just wanted to warn you that I am admitting once more to my imperfection. But, there is good news to be had.
So what is the imperfection du jour? I rarely fast. To see me is to know that abstaining from food is not a regular occurrence. And yet, I know that fasting has been a key means of spiritual discipline from back in the earliest biblical times. I know I should, but I haven’t. This year I came face-to-face with my spiritual laziness as my 17 year-old son fasted every Wednesday during Lent. I was humbled but still reluctant. I did not want shame to move me to take on this discipline (funny how we think we must “feel” right in order to do right). And each Wednesday I was reminded of my “sin” as I did not see him eating dinner with us and knowing he was honestly seeking to know God more.
Then, at the beginning of Holy Week, the week leading up to Easter, a pastor friend noted that he was fasting on Friday from sundown until Sunday morning. He was doing this to remember Jesus sacrifice in his death on the cross. I still wasn’t moved right then to do anything. But, later, as noon approached and I began to think of Jesus being nailed to the cross and thinking about how 3 o’clock is understood as the time of his death, I felt compelled. I found my spirit longing to fast from 3pm Friday until Sunday morning.
I told my wife, Jan, that I decided to take on this fast. She was concerned that I would be fasting the day prior to one of the busiest and biggest days in the church (she has much love and concern for me, and for that I am grateful). But, I explained to her that I felt compelled to take this on. So I did.
Jan was right, Saturday was a full day of getting things ready. The church was filled with people getting ready for sunrise service, a great children & family event, and prepping the Sanctuary. Much of the time I was working on sermon writing, but also doing work in these other areas.
All I can tell you is this – Saturday was one of the most blessed days I have ever experienced. It wasn’t like Easter Sunday, it was just this great sense of knowing God and being spiritually inflated and filled. I worked through the day, at times feeling hungry but never needing to eat. I prayed throughout the day remembering that at that time 2,000 years ago Jesus lay dead in the tomb. At the same time, I was getting excited for the day ahead and celebrating the resurrection. It was, well, a blessed day.
One thing I did not mention earlier is that I have fasted before. I’ve done it because I know it’s important. I did it because we should. It never did much for me. Last week I discovered real fasting. I discovered spiritual renewal and strength as I abstained from food. Oh, I was glad for a Sunday morning kolache, no doubt, but Saturday was a day like none other I’ve had before.
I had a feast of a fast.
The most amazing thing about the experience for me is that I cannot wait to fast again. Knowing how God can use that time and how I can be with God in that time, I want fasting to be a regular part of my life in Christ. For that I give thanks to God.
Have you ever fasted?
What was your experience like?
Is it something you want to try, or try again?
Holy high-five to you,