Note: Our church is using the season of Lent to do a church-wide fast and prayer. Many of us are fasting from food for 24 hours (Sundays at 6:00 pm to Mondays at 6:00 pm) in order to bring us closer to Christ. While we are doing this fast, we are also journaling about our experience. I am using the church’s blog to post many of their thoughts anonymously to share our experience. The thoughts expressed by members of Harris Creek are in blue below.
This week I wanted to work in a theme from our text on Sunday and a theme from the prayer guide for Monday into our fast. That theme was sin and it’s effects on our lives. As I said on Sunday, we must affirm, as believers in Christ, that sin has consequences. Almost all believers would at least say sickness, disease and death are a result of living in a fallen, sinful world. Scripture is clear about that much.
Part of the difficulty when talking about the connection between sin and sickness is a misunderstanding of what “sin” actually is. Perhaps this is because the New Testament alone has more than thirty words that convey the idea of sin. Scott Duvall has a great way of defining sin and also shows the connection between sin and consequences when he says, “When we disobey or rebel, we sin. When we fall short of God’s standard, we sin. When we place something other than God in God’s place, we sin. When we listen to impressions rather than God’s instructions, we sin. When we pervert God’s good gifts into something self-serving, we sin. When we refuse to admit that we are needy creatures, we sin. We have all sinned and failed to live up to God’s glorious design. And sin pays a wage—death.” With that being said, here are some entries from people going through the fast this week at Harris Creek.
Missing the Mark
One helpful definition of sin is “to miss the mark.” It carries with it the connotation that sin is not always pure evil. Some sin is not living up to God’s standards and being fallen creatures. It seems like most of those who took part in the fast were fairly disappointed with something that day. You could say they “missed the mark.” I felt this way as well. It wasn’t that I cheated on my fast or even was very hungry. It was that it simply wasn’t a spiritual experience for me, to be honest. I was so busy all day long, and I never had much downtime to think about my hunger. I also never had much downtime to simply sit and pray, either. I would say I was disappointed with my fast Monday and I “missed the mark.” Here are a few others that felt the same way:
- Fasting this week exposed my tendency to depend on food in a sinful way. Food was designed to nourish and fuel our bodies to enable us to do God’s work and serve Him. However, when I go to food for comfort rather than God, I am thwarting God’s design for food and sinning. When I crave certain foods more than I crave intimacy with the One who gave us those foods to enjoy in the first place, I am missing the point and sinning.
- This week was the hardest so far. I woke up Monday morning hungry. One of my coworkers is fasting with me and she had the same experience. But at the end of the day she told me God had sent an angel to her, in the form of her neighbor, who brought over a chocolate cream pie after she got home from work.
- My overall impression of this week’s fast is that the food part of it wasn’t really easier or harder than last week, but I think it was a little harder for me to spend time in prayer and The Word today because of all the other things my day was filled up with. I think my biggest revelation about sin today was that being too busy for God is a sin that I’m definitely guilty of even though I don’t normally think of it that way. Throughout my day today I would think about the fact that I was fasting and realize that I hadn’t prayed or looked at scripture most of the day. It was very eye-opening, especially since I would think about it even less on a “normal” day. This is good motivation for me to change my lifestyle and routines in order to incorporate more down time that I can spend with God to refocus and recharge my spirit in the middle of the busyness of life.
- Christians know that sin is when we disobey God’s moral will for us. But I think we can better define sin, especially for the unbeliever, as things we choose over God. Each time we sin, we believe the lie that other things are better than God. When we sin, we respond to God’s will by thinking we know better, and acting on it. And this plays itself out in a myriad of ways. Whether there is a connection to sin and physical suffering and healing, I do not know for sure. For instance, we will never know what exactly the thorn was in Paul’s side. Perhaps it was a physical illness. Furthermore, there are numerous ways in which physical suffering is an obvious repercussion of sin. Still, we know that God uses what is bad for good. And I believe that God has the liberty, and does, use physical suffering for good.
- As the weeks progress I am becoming less and less faithful about keeping my fast for the full 24 hours. When I broke down at 4:30 pm on Monday I was frustrated with myself. A co-worker was quick to remind me that fasting is not about legality. If I make it about legality it just becomes an empty obligation which I do because someone says I should. Sacrifice is different for different people. I have to ask myself what it is that fasting is supposed to teach me or clarify for me. If I figure out what that is and I come to understand it at 20 hours of fasting, so be it. I cannot let fasting and my lack of an ability to sustain it define what I learn this Lenten season. That is like telling God I want to hear His voice and then speaking over Him whenever He opens His mouth. I am still bound and determined to keep the fast for 24 hours, but I also need to be willing to accept the grace God offers me when I fail. Charis.
There were a few others who had a great experience during their fast on Monday. I wanted to keep this blog a little shorter than the last two, but I will say this experience is very eye opening. I will be interested to see how many people make it all the way through Lent. Our schedules and lives are often so busy that we place production over spiritual growth (or at least I do, you can speak for yourself). In the fall, we will do a sermon series on the spiritual disciplines and why they are so important to our spiritual lives. All I can say is we have a tough battle when it comes to practicing disciplines in America because all of the comforts and distractions around us. I am praying that we would be found faithful and that God would make His Spirit known to those who are creating space for Him to move in their lives.
 Duvall, J. Scott. Experiencing God’s Story of Life and Hope. (Kregel Publications: Grand Rapids, MI, 2008). Pg. 80.