I am a faster (Is that even a word when used in this context?).
In fact, I am one of many "fasters." My dear friends in my small group have committed to fast and pray together on Wednesdays for the next 12 weeks.
I must say, I am awesome at fasting. For the first hour of the day, anyway. That first waking hour seems to just fly by with ease. I'm like those disciples who had no problem staying awake for like the first 10 minutes when Jesus asked them to keep watch and pray.
But by about 7:05am I'm craving...and by the time we all break our fast when we arrive at small group on Wednesday nights, I am *ready* to do so. I make the expected pleasantries on my way in the door, but what I want to say is "For the love of Julio, get out of my way--you're blocking the chocolate!!!" My spirit is willing, but my flesh is weak.
And it's not just chocolate I can't have. What I've opted to do--the Daniel Fast--is like going vegan for a day, only even more restrictive. I did make a list entitled "You CAN have..." and tacked it to the fridge. I won't lie, there's really not much. The list would've fit on a post-it.
I'm whining a bit here, but only for the purpose of levity. I know that in fasting, we're called to go on living without ho-humming our way through it. This is just my honest admission that it's been tough! But my struggle is small compared to 40 days in the desert or the excruciating hours on the cross on my behalf. And as His follower, it's actually been an extraordinarily appropriate thing to deny myself, to refuse those whims to satisfy my flesh.
We're just not meant to cave to every craving.
One of the guys in small group said he'd heard this saying: "Fasting without focusing on God is just dieting." True words.
So it's not just about not getting to eat chocolate. Or meat or dairy or eggs or sweeteners of any kind. It's about feasting on the Word of God, refocusing my mind in prayer, and identifying with Christ in His sacrificial sufferings with every pang of hunger. Because 12 hours of brown rice couscous instead of chicken tortilla soup deliciousness 1 day a week is nothing compared to what my Jesus laid down. His body was not merely tamed by a few disciplined hours here and there. It was instead broken and pierced and wounded. Because had He not done so, there would be no hope for me. Should I dare count it too high a price to limit what I allow myself for a few hours each week?
I have never participated in Lent, but it's been on my heart to do so this year. I ultimately decided to stay off Facebook during this Lenten season. Again, it's about focus. I don't for one moment think Facebook is the root of all evil--I have seen God glorified through Facebook time and again. But in this season I am sensing a need to refocus on the LORD--especially as we approach Holy Week. It's so easy to get all the way to Easter Sunday morning without thinking about what Jesus did on our behalf, and I want it be my consuming focus rather than a fleeting thought sometime in the month of April. My family is also worthy of my undivided focus as well--another benefit of eliminating distractions right now.
Sure, I'll miss reading the fun status updates and seeing the photos for a few weeks. But again, what can be gained from a renewed focus on the things of God far outweighs it all.
Never in my life have I been so inundated with the words "fast and pray" as in recent months. It seemed so clear He was calling me--and several of us--to deny ourselves and fix our gaze upon Him in this way.
I can't wait to see how He reveals His love, His purpose, Himself in these coming weeks.